Cruel Intentions

Critics Consensus

This darkly comic drama and its attractive young cast are easy on the eyes, but uneven performances and an uninspired script conspire to foil Cruel Intentions.



Total Count: 113


Audience Score

User Ratings: 436,286
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Movie Info

Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe sizzle as a pair of unscrupulous siblings in a deliciously sexy tale of seduction, revenge and conquest. After cleverly seducing and ruining the reputation of an unsuspecting classmate, the sparks fly when Kathryn poses the ultimate challenge to her insatiable stepbrother Sebastian: deflower the Headmaster's beautiful, virgin daughter Annette. If he fails, Kathryn gets his most prized possession, but if he succeeds, Sebastian gets to possess and bed Kathryn. The stakes are high, but for Sebastian, the payoff is feverishly irresistible and before the summer's over, no one will escape their relentless game of cat and mouse until one of them is bitten by the most unlikely sensation of all... love.


Ryan Phillippe
as Sebastian Valmont
Sarah Michelle Gellar
as Kathryn Merteuil
Reese Witherspoon
as Annette Hargrove
Selma Blair
as Cecile Caldwell
Louise Fletcher
as Helen Rosemond
Joshua Jackson
as Blaine Tuttle
Sean Patrick Thomas
as Ronald Clifford
Eric Mabius
as Greg McConnell
Tara Reid
as Marci Greenbaum
Swoosie Kurtz
as Dr. Greenbaum
Christine Baranski
as Bunny Caldwell
Hiep Thi Le
as Mai-Lee
Deborah Offner
as Mrs. Michalak
Herta Ware
as Mrs. Sugarman
Charlie O'Connell
as Court Reynolds
Fred Norris
as Meter Maid
Drew Snyder
as Headmaster Hargrove
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Critic Reviews for Cruel Intentions

All Critics (113) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (61) | Rotten (52)

  • Cruel Intentions is a stretch for all concerned, including the targeted audience, one that pays off handsomely--and works for older moviegoers as well.

    Mar 21, 2019 | Full Review…
  • At this infantile level of appraisal, I suspect that Ms. Gellar and Mr. Phillippe may have a harder time next summer than last.

    Mar 21, 2019 | Full Review…

    Andrew Sarris

    Top Critic
  • Our fascination with this tale has always derived from its cool portrayal of utter amorality, which Kumble and his cast nicely energize with their heedless, youthful intensity.

    Mar 21, 2019 | Full Review…
  • The misbegotten Cruel Intentions serves up great glittering gobs of cheap, without the thrills.

    Mar 21, 2019 | Full Review…
  • It's easy to see why the director thought his Cliff Notes approach to literature would work.

    Mar 21, 2019 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • Despite all the prurient dialogue, director Roger Kumble, making his feature-directing debut after the dubious honor of writing Dumb and Dumber , is positively bashful about actually showing anything remotely sexy.

    Mar 21, 2019 | Full Review…

    Rex Reed

    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Cruel Intentions

  • Oct 24, 2013
    Based on the sensational novel, Cruel Intentions is a provocative sexual thriller. Two warring step siblings, Kathryn and Sebastian, make a bet as to whether Sebastian can seduce the daughter of their school's new headmaster. Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, and Reese Witherspoon, the film has a solid cast and the performances are fairly good; especially Gellar and Phillippe, who have great interplay with each other. Additionally, the storytelling's well done and is laced with intrigue. However, the plot comes off as a bit contrived and is over sexualized. Yet despite a few weaknesses, Cruel Intentions is a compelling exotic thriller.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 16, 2013
    Pretty good. Darkly funny, but even at the end it's still a pretty enjoyable love story, even if you're not into romances...this isn't your typical romantic comedy, thankfully.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 08, 2011
    Cruel Intentions is a pretty interesting teen drama comedy. I wasn't sure about wanting to see it, however I finally did, and was surprised. The film has a good enough cast that keeps the material working, and the cast deliver some good performances. The film is both funny and demented and at times dramatic, and the film is fairly underrated. The film is of course not perfect, but for what it is, it manages to be a good, entertaining hour and a half. What made this film worth watching was Selma Blair as Cecile; she definitely gave the funniest performance of all. Sarah Michelle Gellar was great as Kathryn. She really gave a cruel, uncaring performance, and she definitely delivered in that respect. Cruel Intentions is a well made teen film that is much better than one might think. The film is funny, and has a good cast at hand. I enjoyed many of the cast here, and I thought they each brought something special to the screen. There are things that could've been done better, but for what it is, Cruel Intentions works well enough to keep you interested and entertained, sure the film at times is so-so, but there are plenty of good things going on-screen to enjoy. This is a different and refreshing type of teen comedy/drama film, and like I said, I didn't expect to like it. The cast make this film watchable, and add to that a pretty clever script, and you have a good little film. There are plenty of good, memorable moments on-screen, with plenty of funny bits. An underrated film.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Aug 15, 2011
    Captured our imaginations when we were teenagers.
    Letitia L Super Reviewer

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