The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

Critics Consensus

A listless interpretation of Michael Chabon's first novel, Mysteries of Pittsburgh features none of the source material's charm, but has coming-of-age film cliches in abundance.



Total Count: 42


Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,388
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Movie Info

A recent college graduate desperate to have one last fling before launching himself into the real world falls into a strange love triangle with a charismatic couple in director Rawson Thurber's feature adaptation of Michael Chabon's freshman novel. Peter Sarsgaard, Mena Suvari, Nick Nolte, Sienna Miller, and Jon Foster star in a film that was adapted for the screen by director Thurber. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (18)

  • Shoddy and never credible, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh is an ungainly coming-of-age drama based on a (hopefully much better) novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon.

    Apr 16, 2009 | Rating: 2/4
  • The Mysteries of Pittsburgh seems to be missing an essential element of drama, of risk, underneath its glossy, golden sheen.

    Apr 16, 2009 | Full Review…
  • The movie is all over the place and it loses its focus.

    Apr 13, 2009 | Full Review…
  • I can't imagine the novel's characters were this flat, formulaic and puzzling in their behavior.

    Apr 13, 2009
  • The real mystery about The Mysteries of Pittsburgh is how writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber could turn Michael Chabon's delightful debut novel into such a bore.

    Apr 10, 2009 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…
  • When characters say things like "It's gonna be a great summer," or call someone "Old sport" and act oh-so-beautifully doomed, it's time to call the cliché police.

    Apr 10, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

  • Jun 23, 2010
    In "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh," at first glance, Art(Jon Foster) might seem to be committing career suicide by having sex with his supervisor Phlox(Mena Suvari) all over their workplace. But then this is just a summer job for Art at the Book Barn while he considers his next move, so where's the harm? His father(Nick Nolte), a gangster of ill-repute who he has dinner with once a month in a swanky restaurant, has his next five moves planned which include passing his stock trading exam and working in Baltimore. That's where his career comes in. Where Jane(Sienna Miller) comes in is at a party, after which they go eat pie. After that, Jane's boyfriend Cleveland(Peter Sarsgaard) takes Art for a ride. "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" is a disappointingly inert adaptation of Michael Chabon's novel(I don't remember that much about it except its ending and that I liked it). In its depiction of a transitional year of 1983, it is about a person caught between the respectability he dreads and the eccentric friends he loves. On the one hand, the movie keeps the central relationships intact, but also manages to lose a lot of the book's offbeat energy in its move to the screen which is best exemplified by the casting of non-entity Jon Foster in the lead. That's not to mention too much reliance on daddy issues and droning narration which does eventually disappear. The supporting cast is very, very good but even they cannot save a movie where there is no center.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 19, 2010
    Watched it up to a certain point & then I couldnt watch anymore
    Brody M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 26, 2009
    I always have high expectations for movies involving or set in Pittsburgh because that's my hometown, but this one was highly disappointing. The storyline was weak, and it just seemed like there was no point to watching it. A waste of time...
    Sarah P Super Reviewer
  • Aug 18, 2009
    So this has been on my to see list since pre-production, and I am sure there are those of you which would know why, and if you don't well, bad luck. It felt like it took forever for this to even get a trailer and then released. But finally it came out and to some pretty mixed reviews, which after seeing it I can understand. So this story is an adaptation of a novel written by Michael Chabon, which I have not read. It is set during a summer in the 80's, Art (Jon Foster) who has clear daddy issues (his father is a known gangster type played by Nick Nolte) and he wants to distance himself from that and get a job. He works at a book store, he starts having it off with his boss (Mena Suvari). One day he meets Jane (Sienna Miller) and her boyfriend Cleveland (Peter Sarsgaard) and they have adventures together. Well that is the best way I can put it, you have the three central characters, all very different but they suddenly start hanging out together. Art has a bit of a messed up life, and he's a confused guy, and obviously this is supposed to show him finding himself. But for me I didn't really feel it, and his attraction to Jane I found confusing. Maybe it is because I found her character rather boring and bland, and Sienna Miller just seemed to add to that (How come her accent was much better here then in G.I. Joe?), I felt Jane could have been more exciting and someone wroth lusting over but it just didn't happen. The real spitfire was Cleveland played so well by Peter Sarsgaard who was the definite stand out. There was definitely more chemistry between Cleveland and Art then there was between Art and Jane or Art and Cleveland. The love triangle which builds between them certainly complicates matters and it seems like the characters were too clueless to sort their stuff out. The film starts off rather solidly, and it builds towards a good middle but it falls flat with the third act, it almost felt as if they had no idea how they wanted to end it. It was some what muddled at times, and it almost lost me. I have a feeling the source material would have been so much better and I do feel like actually tracking it down. This film isn't terrible or anything, it isn't bad, but it certainly could have been much better, it had a lot of potential. If only it had a much stronger third act, it would have elevated it for me. This is certainly worth checking out if you are a fan of Peter Sarsgaard.
    Marcey I Super Reviewer

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