The Importance of Being Earnest


The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)


Critic Consensus: Oliver Parker's adaptation of Oscar Wilde's classic play is breezy entertainment, helped by an impressive cast, but it also suffers from some peculiar directorial choices that ultimately dampen the film's impact.


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Movie Info

Two young gentlemen living in 1890's England use the same pseudonym on the sly, which is fine until they fall in love with women using that name, which leads to a comedy of mistaken identities.

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Critic Reviews for The Importance of Being Earnest

All Critics (115) | Top Critics (37)

[An] utterly miscalculated film adaptation of Wilde's play.

Mar 26, 2009
Top Critic

This may be a less than ideal "Earnest," but it still has delights...

Nov 1, 2007
Top Critic

You might suppose that Oscar Wilde's theatrical evergreen is indestructible. But that would be to reckon without the intervention of 'writer'/director Parker, who really makes a pig's ear of this silk purse.

Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Wilde subtitled his masterpiece "A Trivial Comedy for Serious People." This movie seems intent on being a trivial comedy for trivial people.

Aug 7, 2004

The Importance of Being Earnest resonates and inspires rapid-fire bouts of laughter, perhaps even a few giggles from the author himself, whom posterity has rewarded the last laugh.

Jul 20, 2002 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Though Mr. Parker's The Importance of Being Earnest is pleasant enough in its casting and performances, it doesn't work as it should.

Jun 6, 2002 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Importance of Being Earnest

This adaptation of the classic play is a very nice tribute, keeping the dialogue and characters, very close to home. What I must comment on, is that the settings and outdoor scenes felt a little understudied. There is a particular scene that should have taken place in the living room, but ended up displaying it outside as Cecily climbs down a ladder. I absolutely love the story of how two friends meet a love of their life, and are both disapproved by someone or another. It is such a funny idea to have both girls in love with the name earnest, while figuring out that both men calling themselves Earnest, do not even helm that proper name. The overall story is a brilliant little tale that I will probably refer to for a long time, and the play does portray the substance with perfection, but the few scenes of dumb humour, the set locations, the al bait too short running time, and odd take for direction, slightly degrades the effectiveness that the play brought upon. However, I highly enjoy this film, and I would have no problem recommending it to anyone, even if that haven't read the play!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

Cast: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Frances O'Connor, Reese Witherspoon, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Anna Massey, Edward Fox, Patrick Godfrey, Charles Kay Director: Oliver Parker Summary: In this adaptation of Oscar Wilde's witty play about mistaken identities, Rupert Everett and Colin Firth star as two proper gentlemen in 1890s London who use the same pseudonym with disastrous results. At a country estate, they fall in love with two ladies -- Cecily (Reese Witherspoon) and Gwendolyn (Frances O'Connor). But the hilarious confusion that ensues from their noms de guerre could sink their respective chances at romance. My Thoughts: "The movie was as silly and humorous as it was intended to be. The film is filled with a very talented cast of actor's from Colin Firth to Judi Dench. Loved the costumes and the scenery. It was an enjoyable film, but not something I would probably watch a second time."


Super Reviewer


This movie has its moments, but despite an excellent cast the attempts to jazz up the content detracted rather than added to the enjoyment. The whole pre-Raphaelite fantasy thing creaked like a rusty door. The wit and charm of the original play still pokes through with Firth, Dench, Wilkinson, etc. doing what they can, but these are almost obscured by this schoolboyish attempt to try a new angle.

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

A good film, based on a great play. There are few who can match the writing skills of Oscar Wilde, especially when he is doing what he does best - social satire. The cast is impressive and (mostly) fun to watch. Though I found the music and Ms. Witherspoon is a bit off putting. She seemed a bit out of place here. But all in all an enjoyable little romp.

Robert C
Robert C

Super Reviewer

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