Burn After Reading - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Burn After Reading Reviews

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Ben Mankiewicz
At the Movies
November 7, 2008
These are functioning morons, they walk and work among us. And they are brilliant and funny and in spite of the screwball-comedy nature of the story, they are completely believable.
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Ben Lyons
At the Movies
November 7, 2008
, Frances McDormand might get nominated for an Academy Award in a supporting role. She was great.
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Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
October 18, 2008
The Coens are loopy stylists, and it's often amusing to watch this comedy of errors unfold. But after a masterpiece like No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading is classified as disposable.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
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Christopher Orr
The New Republic
September 16, 2008
For fans of the Coens... it suggests, especially on the heels of No Country for Old Men, that they have rediscovered their cinematic vision after several lean years.
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
September 12, 2008
On screen, delusional schmoes are more fun than smart people, and in the latest film from Joel and Ethan Coen, the imperious former spook played by John Malkovich accuses his blackmailers...of heading a league of morons.
| Original Score: 2/4
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
September 12, 2008
Burn After Reading is a piffle, but it's a savagely amusing one.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
September 12, 2008
After the portentous No Country for Old Men, Joel and Ethan Coen return to their trademark brand of cruel, misanthropic farce, and for dark laughs and hurtling narrative momentum this spy caper is their best work since Fargo.
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
September 12, 2008
Burn After Reading could just as well have been called Forget After Seeing.
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
September 12, 2008
The brisk pace and sharp humor in Burn After Reading is a welcome relief after weeks of witless comedies and overblown action flicks.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
September 12, 2008
None of it makes strict sense, which is why it's called screwball, but in its own crazy way Burn After Reading nails the essential folly of humans pretending to be civilized.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Mark Rahner
Seattle Times
September 12, 2008
A cruelly, insanely hilarious comedy populated with imbeciles whose appetites lead to giant helpings of Just Desserts.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Walter V. Addiego
San Francisco Chronicle
September 12, 2008
In the end, the movie doesn't add up to much, but it's fast and funny and lets a bunch of top-drawer actors exercise their comic muscles.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
September 12, 2008
The film is hilarious in patches, shocking in patches, utterly convincing in patches and close to brilliant in patches.
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
September 12, 2008
Extremely well-cast. Extremely well-written, too (with one of those clockwork plots -- beloved of the Coens since Blood Simple -- in which people, fatally, act before getting all the facts).
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Kyle Smith
New York Post
September 12, 2008
Most audiences will find it a head-scratcher with a dismaying act of violence and a haphazard plot that fizzles out without any of the main characters on-screen.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
September 12, 2008
A cartoonish spoof of espionage thrillers, Burn After Reading comes on so goofily that you don't notice the pessimistic undertone right away.
| Original Score: 3/4
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Amy Biancolli
Houston Chronicle
September 12, 2008
Burn After Reading is neither an instant classic like No Country for Old Men nor a psychedelic playground like The Big Lebowski. But it is a Coen brothers kick in the pants.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
September 12, 2008
A thoroughly disposable comic romp made by a bunch of people who probably should have been working on bigger and better things, Burn After Reading is sure to frustrate just about anyone who goes to see it.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
September 12, 2008
The ensemble is at once loose and pitch perfect. Hardly a one of them plays a wholly likable person, yet each reveals the despearate or stupid humanity of their characters.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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Stephen Becker
Dallas Morning News
September 12, 2008
As a chance to watch a gaggle of Serious Actors ham it up in an intricately plotted (though easy to follow) yarn, it's a well-executed diversion.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
September 12, 2008
The difference between Burn After Reading and much better Coen comedies like Raising Arizona, Fargo, and O Brother, Where Art Thou? is that the brothers' smugness has finally gone over the top.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Amy Nicholson
Boxoffice Magazine
September 12, 2008
Out of boredom or a need to unbalance their audiences, the Coens' follow-up is a bumbler, its first half as aimless as a drunk spider making threads without plotting a trap.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
September 12, 2008
Screwball fare is meant to be lightweight, but this is just empty. In the end, Burn After Reading doesn't add up so much as go up -- in a puff of thin smoke, barely there and then gone.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
September 12, 2008
It's funny, sometimes delightful, sometimes a little sad, with dialogue that sounds perfectly logical until you listen a little more carefully and realize all of these people are mad.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Manohla Dargis
New York Times
September 12, 2008
Burn After Reading, the clubby, predictably self-amused comedy from Joel and Ethan Coen, has a tricky plot, visual style, er, to burn, but little heart.
| Original Score: 2.5/5
Top Critic
Rafer Guzman
Newsday
September 11, 2008
Doesn't stand up to Fargo or Blood Simple, but it's a chance to watch some top-notch actors jump their rails and head into terra bizarro.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Dana Stevens
Slate
September 11, 2008
For those who like their black comedy without a trace of cream or sugar, Burn holds up as a minor Coen brothers comedy, a Hudsucker Proxy rather than a Big Lebowski.
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Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
September 11, 2008
A goofy screwball romp that affords a gaggle of A-listers the chance to hambone around in antic style.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Neely Tucker
Washington Post
September 11, 2008
The high-octane cast works hard. But there's nothing to suggest anybody off camera tried that hard, which is fatal to a Coen outing.
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Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
September 11, 2008
It has its moments, but is all too easy to erase from your memory.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
September 11, 2008
Joel and Ethan Coen have such a distinctive creative palette that there ought to be a paint color named after them.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
September 11, 2008
Shot, scored and edited like a paranoid conspiracy thriller, but acted with comic exuberance by a brilliant ensemble cast, it presents itself seriously while making hardly any sense at all.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Keith Phipps
AV Club
September 11, 2008
Burn's land of the perpetually deluded works as an amusing place to visit, but an even better place to flee.
| Original Score: B
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
September 11, 2008
We are no longer in No Country, but we are assuredly in Coen Country.
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Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
September 11, 2008
Mostly we're along for a curious ride. Individual scenes are enjoyable, some laugh-out-loud funny. But it's not a story being told, really, so much as an exercise in ongoing and increasing stupidity on the part of the characters.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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David Fear
Time Out
September 11, 2008
The transition from Oscar-winning masterpiece to this mess is especially depressing. Burn After Reading is a disposable lark, and it's treated by the filmmakers as such; Forget After Seeing would be a far more honest title.
| Original Score: 2/6
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
September 11, 2008
It would be no country for movie lovers without the Coens. They still manage to run unmuzzled while the rest of Hollywood runs scared.
| Original Score: 3/4
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
September 10, 2008
With a wealth of lip-smacking character turns and a plot that keeps us off our guard, Burn After Reading takes its entertaining place among the better lesser Coen brothers films, even if it doesn't burn itself into our memory.
| Original Score: 4/5
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J. Hoberman
Village Voice
September 10, 2008
A characteristically supercilious and crisply shot clown show filled with cartoon perfs and predicated on extravagant stupidity.
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Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
September 10, 2008
Once more in Burn After Reading [the Coens] goof around, in their arch, bemused way, with conventions of genre -- a little screwball here, some spy spoof there.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
September 10, 2008
Burn After Reading is untranscendent, a little tired, the first Coen brothers picture on autopilot. In the words of the CIA superior, it's 'no biggie.'
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Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
September 10, 2008
Joel and Ethan Coen's Burn After Reading, from their own screenplay, strikes me as one of the most willfully awful movies I've ever seen.
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
September 8, 2008
Burn After Reading likely won't be a major Oscar contender for 2009, but that doesn't mean it won't offer a hell of a good time in theaters toward the end of 2008.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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David Denby
New Yorker
September 8, 2008
Even black comedy requires that the filmmakers love someone, and the mock cruelties in Burn After Reading come off as a case of terminal misanthropy.
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David Ansen
Newsweek
September 8, 2008
Burn After Reading is a blackly comic illustration of Murphy's Law, set in the Washington world of CIA espionage, and populated with a cast of delusional dunces who are a wonder to behold.
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Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
September 2, 2008
Burn After Reading is a movie about stupidity that left me feeling stupid.
Top Critic
Todd McCarthy
Variety
August 28, 2008
Everything here has been dialed up to an almost grotesquely exaggerated extent, making for a film that feels misjudged from the opening scene and thereafter only occasionally hits the right note.
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Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
August 27, 2008
It takes a while to adjust to the rhythms and subversive humor of Burn because this is really an anti-spy thriller in which nothing is at stake, no one acts with intelligence and everything ends badly.
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Laremy Legel
Film.com
August 27, 2008
The reason this film gets a slightly above average grade is the strength of Brad Pitt's silliness and the momentum the movie has near the end.
Full Review | Original Score: B-