The Vicious Kind (2009)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Untrusting of women following a bitter breakup on the eve of Thanksgiving, a misanthropic construction worker finds himself inexplicably attracted to his younger brother's new girlfriend. Caleb Sinclaire (Adam Scott) has just been through a particularly difficult breakup. Isolated, yet strangely contented with his newly single status, Caleb wears his distain toward women as a macho badge of honor. However, when Thanksgiving weekend arrives and Caleb meets his younger brother Peter's (Alex Frost) new girlfriend, Emma (Brittany Snow), his initial attempts to convince his sibling that the relationship will yield nothing but pain are quickly sidelined by his growing attraction to the beautiful girl. His vulnerability gradually bubbling to the surface over the course of the holiday weekend, Caleb is soon forced to confront the feelings that he's been trying so desperately to conceal beneath a swaggering facade. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
R (for some strong sexuality and pervasive language)
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

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Adam Scott
as Caleb Sinclaire
Alex Frost
as Peter Sinclaire
Brittany Snow
as Emma Gainsborough
J.K. Simmons
as Donald Sinclaire
Alysia Reiner
as Samantha
Bill Buell
as Rocky
Jordan Berkow
as Hannah
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Vicious Kind

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (6)

The characters spend far too much time working through their problems with drama-deadening directness.

February 11, 2010
New York Times
Top Critic

It's the sort of Sundance-approved movie that takes place in a stereotypically bleak rural locale, while an acoustic guitar twangs mournfully over the soundtrack.

Full Review… | February 9, 2010
Time Out
Top Critic

Indie drama reveals talent in front of and behind the camera.

December 14, 2009
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Inevitably, the film devolves into weepy catharsis, but with slick cinematography and colorfully cruel dialogue for Scott to chew up and spit at every member of this fine ensemble.

Full Review… | December 14, 2009
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

The Vicious Kind upends the heavily tread dysfunctional family drama in ways that are unique, surprising and memorable.

Full Review… | December 10, 2009
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Vicious Kind doesn't have much in the way of new corners to offer the domestic disturbance genre, resulting in a film greatly dedicated to misery, but offers no tangible reason why anyone outside of the filmmaker should care.

Full Review… | March 1, 2010

Audience Reviews for The Vicious Kind

I haven't really seen Adam Scott in anything, but his turn in this dramatic role is indeed vicious but also vulnerable. Caleb's insulting outbursts cut with vitriol, and his blubbery apologies pour with nonsense that he can't quite understand himself. I'm not really sure of the movie's premise - the only way Caleb knows how to protect is brother is by hurting him and that's why he sleeps with his brother's girlfriend...? The motifs of desperate need and succumbing to attraction because of the other person's attraction to you are all interesting, but the ending shows no real aftermath of that behavior.

Alice Shen
Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

Secrets and lies unfold in a troubled family when a man develops a lustful fascination with his brother's girlfriend when the latter brings her home for Thanksgiving. Adam Scott's performance in this deftly constructed family drama is everything I've heard it was and more. His crying scenes are as convincing as his most vicious outbursts, and Scott conveys an emotional truth that is rarely seen but always enjoyed. In many dramas we see characters say nasty things to each other, and not seconds later, they either apologize or give that regretting look, which is supposed to convey to the audience that even though this character just did something we should disapprove of, we should still like him/her. It's false and performative, but I've learned to put up with it. When the script calls for such moments, Scott's strength is he makes such moments work, incorporating them into the manically depressive nature of Caleb; other times, Scott doesn't care if we don't like Caleb. Brittany Snow manages to be both alluring, vulnerable, and strong, while Alex Frost is perfectly douchey. And who knew that J.K. Simmons could handle drama with such emotional range and dexterity? The script starts off very well. The ways in which information is hinted at and slowly revealed are quite deftly carried, and most of the characters are finely drawn. However, by the end of the film, there were a few bits so ridiculous that writer/director Lee Toland Krieger deliberately aimed for laughs in the most awkward places. Also, the film's penultimate moment was so subtle that it slipped into obscurity. The last ninety minutes were leading up to this moment, but we don't know enough about what goes through the character's head to get a fair idea of what happens in these characters' lives after the film has ended. The smile, if it is a smile, is too enigmatic to hinge the entire film on. Overall, this is an excellent film with just a few minor flaws and what should be a star-making performance by Adam Scott

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


Kind of odd and offbeat, but it was enjoyable to watch. Very interesting chemistry of characters.

Leigh Ryan
Leigh Ryan

Super Reviewer

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