Smoke Signals - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Smoke Signals Reviews

Page 2 of 38
Super Reviewer
½ January 21, 2014
Sherman Alexie is one of most important Native American fiction writers of the past century, and with this adaptation of his short story we see the real strife of these people, living in reservations. The film follows a young man (Beach) and an old friend (Adams) who take a road trip to put his father to rest. The film deals with prevalent issues in the Native American community including poverty, alcoholism, and racism from a heavily white population. Having Native American protagonists and a heavily NA cast is pretty unheard of in many films, even recently, and seeing this story made is really quite interesting. The story is a little rushed, as the journey takes a short amount of time. Most of what we see is Victor (Beach) trying to understand the legacy that his father has left for him. We see a transformation, but it goes by so fast that it's hard to savor exactly what has occurs before the story inevitably ends. We're also not sure what either Thomas or Victor will ultimately do now that this "adventure" has taken place. It just doesn't have the strength behind it that the original story invokes.
½ January 20, 2014
ANOTHER must see, and featuring one of my favorite entertainment figures, Gary Farmer. Seeded in the Sundance Lab.
January 15, 2014
I was surprised with this flick. It wasn't anything special but the performances, smooth transitions, and well integrated flash back (which i typically hate) charmed me over. You get to see some well done monologue thru characters telling stories which was fun. Didn't really catch anything too deep happening but it's worth a watch. Also: white guilt did not play a factor in this review.
October 7, 2013
It is a great movie giving insight to the nature of our reservations of the time and currently. Other than that, it also displays smooth transitioning in storytelling cinematically.
½ June 18, 2013
How do we forgive our bad wigs? Maybe in a dream? Despite the oversight of the Ed Wood moment with the wig taking me out of the movie, the glorious plot, lovable characters, and narrative makes me forgive anything. This movie has equal parts heart and humor. I love this film.
½ April 18, 2013
The writing is sharp as a tack and the movie presents strong moments without taking itself too seriously. A masterpiece
April 16, 2013
A good story that fulfills both its functions in telling a story about a father and son and also the current concerns of Native Americans. I have never thought Adam Beach was a very good actor, and this film doesn't change that, but the other characters are quirky and real enough that his performance can be overlooked.
April 14, 2013
Funny, warm, and incredibly spiritual movie about native americans today.
April 14, 2013
An odd little movie that is not without it's entertaining little bits every so often.
March 30, 2013
Really small film but wonderful. Spiritual, social and some humor. Loved it.
March 21, 2013
Great movie... I watched this in my Cinema Appreciation class and really was satisfied with the entire film. Lots of symbolism and motifs throughout the movie that are fun to pick out while watching.
March 1, 2013
This groundbreaking movie made Native American film relevant. It's also a funny, moving story that deserved the attention it got.
½ February 25, 2013
A fine example of oral tradition
February 22, 2013
Naomi Rich
"It's a good day to be indigenous," a radio announcer on the desolate Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation dryly intones at the beginning of "Smoke Signals," and the remark serves not only as an accurate indication of the quirky, humor to be found throughout the film, but as a sort of prophetic blessing on this first fictional feature written, directed and co-produced by Native Americans. A light, entertaining story with serious themes that speaks with a distinctive Native American voice and instinctively pulls you back from the temptation to be solemn and pretentious and engages humorously.
Lanky, geeky Thomas Builds a Fire(Evan Adams) and athletic Victor Joseph(Adam Beach) live on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation. Thomas's parents died in a house fire when he was a baby; he was saved by Victor's father. After hearing that Victor's fathers has passed away in Phoenix, the two embark on a journey and learn more about this man that played a pivotal part in their lives. At first Victor does not want his nerdy sidekick's company, but Thomas has the money to bankroll the trip. The two grow closer as they learn more about themselves and their lost patriarch
On their way off the reservation, two young Native women driving backward in a "rez" car offer them a ride to the edge of the reservation, the woman asks them if they have their passports, Thomas replies, "Arizona is in America", her response, "Yeah, that's as foreign as you can get." portrays the humor, but also the sovereignty of reservation land.
Victor is clearly annoyed by his sidekick's wacky stories and dorky way of dressing. He urges Thomas to get cooler clothes and affect a tough-guy swagger -- "you gotta look like a warrior," he says. But Thomas is an irrepressible spirit whose talk is more than nattering -- he has an uncanny ability to seize on wisdom at the same time he's going for a humorous side to some otherwise uncomfortable realities of Native American History.
"You know what's more pathetic than watching Indians on televisions?" Thomas asks, "Indians watching Indians on television." His humorous reference to the cowboy and Indian westerns of yesteryear. Along with the "49" song they make up about John Wayne's teeth.
"Smoke Signals", is at heartfelt movie about the meaning of family and connections, but also a road movie adventure with Victor and Thomas at the helm. Taking you on their journey of coming of age and rites of passage. Giving a bird's eye glimpse into contemporary Native American culture with humor as inherent as their past.
Kudos to "Smoke Signals" for opening the door for other Native American artists and their endeavors in cinematography. The movie is definitely a keeper, if not only for it's comic relief and contemporary Native American culture, but also for it's life lessons and thoughts of our own journeys. Two Thumbs up.
February 19, 2013
Do it the Indian way
½ February 14, 2013
This film is definitely no "Pow-Wow Highway" and definitely not anything I would pay money to see, but it's worth a look if you can catch it on TV.

As a reservation-bred kid myself, I caught a chuckle or two from the Indian Inside Jokes, but I can only scratch my head, wondering if my non-Native brethren could "get" as much as we can. Moreover, while there are plenty of stellar moments, the movie clearly strains too hard to attain profundity and gets bogged down too quickly in a sense of self-importance.

Ultimately, the relentless pursuit of DEPTH ends up backfiring: I kept hoping for a giant robot, or a ghost, or a UFO landing to break the monotony, but nope. What you end up with is a forgettable flick praised by liberal, self-flagelating White critics who think this is the best our people can do.
February 9, 2013
Brings new meaning to the word "boring"
January 22, 2013
This is pretty good, but I found it to be a touch trite. It is well acted, for the most part, but I guess it just wasn't for me?
January 19, 2013
I liked this all Native American production with its quirky sense of humor and warm tale of a relationship between a father and son that only gets straightened out after the father is dead. It is not a unique story, but the cultural point of view is. Good acting by Adam Beach and Evan Adams.
January 15, 2013
There was an honesty to Smoke Signals that didn't seem forced. Saw this in a class and enjoyed it more than I thought that I would. Poignant and moving, Smoke Signals shows a decent story about modern Native Americans. I actually like Sherman Alexie's stories and this feels like reading Reservation Blues
Page 2 of 38