The Crossing Guard - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Crossing Guard Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ August 7, 2012
John Booth: Would you maybe, ya know, would you take a couple days, and maybe think about not taking my life? 

"Some lives cross, others collide."

The Crossing Guard is far from a great movie, but it still has its moments of power. This is easily my least favorite Sean Penn directed movie, but the other three I've seen from him were all very good. The story here isn't very original, nor are the characters or anything the characters say. If I was struck by anything while watching this film it was how cardboard cutout everything seemed. 

Freddy is a divorced, alcoholic jeweler who has never been able to get over the death of his daughter Emily. Emily was killed by a drunk driver years earlier and Freddy and his then wife Mary end up separating not too long afterwards. Freddy and Mary had two boys together too, but Freddy hasn't been around them much, especially since Mary had gotten a new husband. When the drunk driver is released from prison, Freddy goes to him and tells him he has three years to live. We learn through events that John Booth(the drunk driver) is not a bad guy, and that he is very sorry for what he did. After watching the film for an hour, you'll actually like John and hate Freddy. 

The performances were so-so. Jack Nicholson has been much, much better, but he isn't bad. I expected a lot more from him, and this movie, based off of Penn and Nicholson's other work, The Pledge, which was a masterpiece. David Morse is also just okay as John Booth. The women probably give the best performances in the film; those being Anjelica Huston and Robin Wright.

Obviously when you see Sean Penn's name and Jack Nicholson's name, expectations are going to be high. This isn't at all a terrible movie, but it is more bland then you would like. There's a few scenes that make the movie worth watching, but I wouldn't ever say this a must see film. In fact, if you're going to skip any of Sean Penn's directorial outings, make it this one. Overall, I was disappointed with this film as a whole. It could have and should have been so much better.
Super Reviewer
½ August 16, 2007
A film I?ve been wanting to see for a while but perhaps my expectations were set too high. The story was slow moving. The performances were average and iddn?t really come up a level even towards the end.

True story????
Super Reviewer
½ September 10, 2007
Great casting/acting. Good story idea but could probably have been executed better.
Super Reviewer
May 21, 2007
Just fine drama of a jeweler is shredded by grief after his young daughter is killed by a drunk driver. He resolutely tells his estranged wife that he plans to shoot the culprit now that he has been released from prison. It's an unpleasant but riveting story about strained moral responsibility, the licking of emotional wounds, the contradictions of masculinity, and the tragic cracks into which whole families can tumble.
Super Reviewer
½ December 5, 2006
Intersting character driven study of loss and guilt that contains some quality performances, but ultimately it's too slow-moving.
Super Reviewer
½ February 10, 2005
[color=dimgray]Note to future filmmakers: never start your movie with a scene in a stripclub. It has a sleazy, 3:00 am HBO sort of feel to it.(Not that I would know anything about that...) Case in point: "The Crossing Guard" starts that way and it is a bad start for the movie because it definitely sets the wrong mood.(Correct me if I'm wrong, but I recall "Exotica" starts out in customs in an airport.) Now I know Freddy(Jack Nicholson, in full psycho mode) is a complete mess and only has social interaction with the fellow denizens of said club. He is completely unable to come to terms with the death of his daughter six years ago killed by a drunk driver, John Booth(David Morse, in a very good performance), while Freddy's ex-wife(Anjelica Huston) is slowly rebuilding her life. Freddy finds out that John Booth has just been released from prison and plans to kill him. But Freddy is such a screw-up that he forgets the ammunition for his gun. He swears to return in three days time. Now, that is how the movie should start; it should not be thirty minutes in. There is a lot of "The Crossing Guard" which is unnecessary and a good deal of it is overwrought and overdone even if it is well-meaning.[/color]
[color=#696969]Note 1: Morse and John Savage were both in Inside Moves(1979). Morse's character here also might share an unpleasant event with his character from St. Elsewhere.[/color]
[color=#696969]Note 2: Director Sean Penn dedicates the movie to Henry Charles Bukowsky.[/color]
[color=#696969]Note 3: In The Crossing Guard, Mikey & Nicky and The Woodsman, I have been noticing that the only characters who ride city buses are either criminals or ex-cons.[/color]
Super Reviewer
½ August 18, 2011
The Crossing Guard is a drama that flirts with misery porn, but overcomes it with a powerful and authentic performance by Jack Nicholson. While it's not always clear what Sean Penn, the director, is trying to convey, he succeeds in offering a complex revenge/family drama. The ending, to be sure, didn't fit the story, but enough is right (especially Nicholson and Morse) to make it worth a watch, especially for Sean Penn fans.
Super Reviewer
February 2, 2008
A lot of people enjoyed this one with Nicolson being forced to play someone other than Nicolson for the first time in a long time. Also Sean Penn directed it so how could it be bad? Well I thought the pace was far too slow and I found it to not be particularly memorable.
Super Reviewer
½ March 25, 2010
Moody, dark, but very enlightening and touching in the end. Jack Nicholson gave a very emotionally detached and vulnerable performance, far from majority of the characters he always play. David Morse was also good, and so was Anjelica Huston and Robin Wright Penn, but the film overall was just okay, but still a worthy directorial effort by Sean Penn.
½ July 4, 2014
Its heavy subject matter and examination of a vengeful father make Sean Penn's 'The Crossing Guard' great late night entertainment.
½ March 20, 2014
What a powerful film! Nicholson is amazing and the rest of the cast is super also. Great story and acting at it's best. Sean Penn is a great director. See this film if you missed it. It is a permanent addition to my library. Ken K.
½ December 28, 2013
The editing is absolutely atrocious. There are way too many unnecessary slow motion sequences that highlight something as spectacular as a person walking. The dialogue in some of the scenes is incredibly tedious and awkward. A huge waste of talent and casting. Avoid this movie !
July 17, 2013
I'm gonna give you a laugh, kid

Freddie Gale is a jeweler that has sworn to get revenge on the drunk driver that killed his daughter. John Booth is released from prison after serving a lengthy sentence for killing a little girl while drunk driving. John suffers from depression as he tries to put his life back together. When John and Freddie's lives cross paths, their worlds collide which may lead to another fatality.

"It only hurts the first time."
"I know."

Sean Penn, director of The Indian Runner, The Pledge, September 11, Into the Wild, and the upcoming The Comedian, delivers The Crossing Guard. The storyline for this picture, written by Penn, was interesting and contained dynamic characters. The cast delivers awesome performances and includes Jack Nicholson, David Morse, Anjelica Houston, Robin Wright, and John Savage.

"Your guilt is a little too much competition for me. You should let me know when you want to live."

I am a huge Jack Nicholson fan and have been ashamed that I had never seen this picture. This wasn't as epic feeling as I had hoped. This was about as good as Chinatown, in my opinion. Jack Nicholson was his usual compelling self; and overall, this is a must see picture but far from a must own DVD.

"I ride the bus all day long."

Grade: B+
January 28, 2013
This started OK, and the plot synopsis had me intrigued, but about 30 mins into it things start going wrong. Some scenes are just...weird. Not good weird. It's hard to explain.
January 13, 2013
If not for Jack Nicholson, I would have called this one really bad. Jack, like Denzel has a way of making a bad movie seem OK.

The supporting characters (Robin Wright) are wasted with little development. I don't understand if Jack's character is a pimp, jeweler, a guy with lots of money, or what. You never really see what he's all about. The direction is quite messy.
½ August 3, 2012
This is a great independent film. I can't believe it didn't make money. Definitely one of the better movies I've seen in a long time.
February 2, 2012
I never thought I'd see a Jack Nicholson film I didn't like, but it's happened. This is absolutely awful. I watched almost all of it and just could not take it any more. Don't waste your time- this is painfully dull and has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
December 17, 2011
You would think with Nicholson, Huston, Morse, Robin Wright Penn and Sean Penn directing this would be mint. Turns out its really heavy handed and i had absolutely no emotional connection to it. Given the subject matter that seems almost impossible but The Crossing Guard pulls it off.
½ June 2, 2010
Now I know I'm not the most popular guy on RT but the fact that no one else on my friend's list has even rated this movie was hugely surprising to me! This was a good movie and I felt it left a huge impression on me since I first watched it in high school.

In Penn's second shot at directing he tells the story of a jewelry store owner, Freddy Gale (Nicholson), whose 7 year old daughter was killed by a drunk driver a few years previously. Since the death of his daughter his wife divorced him, his relationship with his son has become non-existent, he has taken to drinking heavily and he blames John Booth (David Morse) the driver of the vehicle who is being released from prison.

Booth himself is trying to get his life back together but has trouble letting himself be happy because of his remorse. Gale confronts Booth shortly after his release with the intentions of killing him but Booth makes a deal with Gale. Booth seems to appreciate the toll his actions have taken on Gale's life and knows what a murder will do too. Booth makes this offer; take 3 days to think it over, if after 3 days Freddy Gale still wants to kill Booth then Booth won't fight back or run.

That is all I will really say about the premise, I like the less is more idea. In regards to the movie itself, I felt this was a very fine movie. The performances of Jack Nicholson, David Morse and Anjelica Houston were outstanding. Penn does a great job in conjuring up mixed emotions and blurring the line between antagonist and protagonist, a theme that I find difficult to pull off but still is often attempted but rarely successful. The movie is thoughtful and emotional and I felt really had perspective. With the subject matter being so difficult and the layers emotions I think Penn pulled it off very well and I think this is his finest movie as a director.

I think some people will be bothered by the slow parts, but that doesn't usually bother me. Also, there is a touch of "lack-of-believability" at times but it is not out of bounds and I don't think it is distracting either. Otherwise get ready to shed a tear because it will almost be impossible not to!
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