Mona Lisa Smile - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Mona Lisa Smile Reviews

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Elizabeth M. Tamny
Chicago Reader
January 10, 2004
Roberts asks her students rhetorical questions: What makes art good or bad? Who decides? But the movie answers them as canonically as the syllabus Roberts abandons.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/4
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
December 23, 2003
Women of the Fifties, rise up in protest.
Read More | Original Score: 1/4
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Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
December 20, 2003
In terms of the gap between the movie it's trying to be and the movie it actually is, Mona Lisa Smile is in many ways indefensible. Yet for all its problems, it's satisfyingly movielike.
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Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
December 19, 2003
Anyone who's ever been moved by a teacher to dream a slightly bigger dream than his parents thought he or she was capable of achieving ought to love the film, for it gets at a truer model of teacher's inspiration.
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Desson Thomson
Washington Post
December 19, 2003
Like the turtleneck cashmere sweaters and girdles that tie down these promising women, the movie is trite and trussed.
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
December 19, 2003
Rather than being a fascinating exploration of a much more constrained time in our social history, the film simply feels anachronistic.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star
December 19, 2003
[Roberts] is an anachronistic pop-feminist on a mission.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
December 19, 2003
There seems to be an odd idealization, or trivialization, of the characters that makes the movie ultimately unsatisfying.
Read More | Original Score: 2/4
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
December 19, 2003
It's hard to believe Katherine could become a beloved teacher or inspire her students, and in the case of Mona Lisa Smile that's the same as saying it's hard to believe the movie.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Jay Boyar
Orlando Sentinel
December 19, 2003
When was the last time you saw a mainstream movie with big, flashy stars that featured a fairly sophisticated discussion of the nature of art?
Read More | Original Score: 3/5
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
December 19, 2003
The movie is only interesting intermittently, and the period details don't feel right.
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Jonathan Foreman
New York Post
December 19, 2003
Sanctimonious, relentlessly predictable and willfully ignorant of the period it's set in.
Read More | Original Score: 2/4
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Jami Bernard
New York Daily News
December 19, 2003
This is not a feminist movie. It even feels at times like a step back, partly because the cliches are so tired.
Read More | Original Score: 2/4
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Connie Ogle
Miami Herald
December 19, 2003
There are a few reasons to enjoy the film, namely its likable cast, its noble aim -- of dramatizing one of the many small steps that led to the overhaul of women's higher education -- and its unexpected ability to surprise you.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Eric Harrison
Houston Chronicle
December 19, 2003
A Dead Poets Society for girls, substituting Roberts' luminosity for Robin Williams' mania.
Read More | Original Score: B-
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
December 19, 2003
Such a mixed-up child, but not without worthy intentions and glimmers of realized potential -- sorry, but I just can't bring myself to come down too hard.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
December 19, 2003
An under-achieving film about how much women can achieve, featuring actors of such potential, seems more than a bit cynical even by Hollywood standards.
Read More | Original Score: C
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Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
December 19, 2003
A classy, handsome and serviceable entertainment that may not change your life, but could help you appreciate how you came to have it.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
December 19, 2003
A true rarity, an often-dumb movie about supposedly smart people.
Read More | Original Score: D+
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Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
December 19, 2003
Newell ... has crafted a warm, well-paced movie out of a somewhat wan script.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
December 19, 2003
The characters involve us, we sympathize with their dreams and despair of their matrimonial tunnel vision, and at the end we are relieved that we listened to Miss Watson and became the wonderful people who we are today.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
December 19, 2003
The reliable Mike Newell directs Mona Lisa Smile with such assurance that the important moments are never mawkish or dull, and he encourages the women to act with absolute conviction.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Bruce Newman
San Jose Mercury News
December 18, 2003
[A] sharply observed movie.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
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Stephen Holden
New York Times
December 18, 2003
A star-watcher's guilty pleasure.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Manohla Dargis
Los Angeles Times
December 18, 2003
[Mona Lisa Smile] lets us spend some quality time with some of the finest actresses in American film as they give energetic life to one of the most radically underrepresented minorities in Hollywood: the intelligent woman.
Read More | Original Score: 3/5
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Philip Wuntch
Dallas Morning News
December 18, 2003
For a movie that superficially encourages free thinking, each plot development is strictly formulaic.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
December 18, 2003
It's an estrogen-soaked version of Dead Poets Society, stripped of any weight or significance.
Read More | Original Score: 2/5
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Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
December 18, 2003
Strictly a paint-by-numbers affair. No shading. Little in the way of perspective. To call it one-dimensional would be an act of charity.
Read More | Original Score: 1.5/4
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John Anderson
Newsday
December 18, 2003
Sadly, the predictability factor of Mona is simply off the charts -- you can almost recite the dialogue before it rolls off the students' well-developed palates, and the course it follows is a well-rutted road.
Read More | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
December 18, 2003
I must say that I enjoyed Mona Lisa Smile enormously, in large part because of the sheer virtuosity of the largely female cast.
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Rex Reed
New York Observer
December 18, 2003
An intelligent, character-driven ensemble piece with a busy and attractive cast examining tradition and change in the groves of academe in the 1950's.
Top Critic
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
December 18, 2003
Roberts shows a new maturity in the role of a mentor to a flock of younger women.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Scott Foundas
L.A. Weekly
December 18, 2003
What makes the movie seem crass is its refusal to present (or even to see) more than one side of any given issue.
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Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune
December 18, 2003
This is a movie with few secrets or surprises, however much it tries to warm hearts or sell eccentricity and idealism.
Read More | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Eleanor Ringel Gillespie
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
December 18, 2003
Despite some missteps along the way, it turns out to be curiously brave underneath its conventional trappings.
Read More | Original Score: B
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Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
December 16, 2003
With Katherine's lectures on the dead-artists society, the movie seems to tout rebellious originality. In fact, it's a lesson in emotional conformity.
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Peter Rainer
New York Magazine/Vulture
December 16, 2003
Everything about this movie seems off-key, starting with its title.
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Jessica Winter
Village Voice
December 16, 2003
Busybody Katherine appears more than simply angry with the mid-century sexism that her charges have so seamlessly internalized -- she seems utterly unplugged from reality in 1953.
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
December 14, 2003
An exercise in relentless mediocrity.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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David Rooney
Variety
December 11, 2003
Roberts gives the character her regular mix of high spirits and vulnerability, which never fully gels with the idealistic, savvy woman.
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Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
December 10, 2003
A reduction of big, vital '50s issues into a no-carb pudding of ideas by writers Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal, directed (as if by a Martian landed at a Seven Sisters college) by Mike Newell.
Full Review | Original Score: D
Top Critic
Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
December 10, 2003
The film's dogged insistence in re-fighting the cultural wars of the '50s without shedding any new light on either side reduces nearly all the characters to shallow mouthpieces for predictable points of view.
Top Critic
Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
December 8, 2003
[Y]ou know I know a lot of people who said this thing looks a lot like Dead Poets Society, well, so what? ... Dead Poets Society was a really good film and this is a good film as well.