The War of the Roses (1989)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The War of the Roses Videos

The War of the Roses Photos

Movie Info

Divorce lawyer Danny De Vito warns his prospective client that the story he's about to tell isn't a pretty one, but the client listens with eager intensity -- as do the folks out there in the movie in the audience. The War of the Roses can best be described as a slapstick tragedy concerning the decline and literal fall of a marriage. After 17 years, Oliver (Michael Douglas) and Barbara (Kathleen Turner) Rose want a divorce. Not for this couple is there anything resembling a "civilized understanding": Barbara wants their opulent house, and Oliver isn't about to part with the domicile. Barbara nails the basement door shut while Oliver is downstairs, Oliver disrupts Barbara's fancy party by taking aim at the catered dinner, Barbara lays waste to Oliver's sports car....and so it goes, culminating in a disastrous showdown around, about and under the living room's fancy chandelier. DeVito and screenwriter Michael Leeson never let us forget that the couple's self-indulgent imbroglio exacts an awful price upon their children (Sean Astin and Heather Fairfield). The War of the Roses was adapted from the novel by Warren Adler. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Rating:
R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre:
Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

Watch it now

Cast

Kathleen Turner
as Barbara Rose
Sean Astin
as Josh (at 17)
Michael Douglas
as Oliver Rose
Danny DeVito
as Gavin D'Amato
Dan Castellaneta
as Man in Chair
G.D. Spradlin
as Harry Thurmont
Peter Donat
as Larrabee
Jeffrey Thomas
as Orderly
Lisa Howard
as Nurse
Peter Hansen
as Mr. Marshall
Roy Brocksmith
as Mr. Fisk
Peter Hanson
as Mr. Marshall
Peter Brocco
as Elderly Mourner
Mary Fogarty
as Mrs. Dell
Tony Crane
as Teenage Boy
Robert Michael Adler
as Dr. Hillerman
David Wohl
as Dr. Gordon
Trenton Teigen
as Josh (age 10)
Shirley Mitchell
as Mrs. Dewitt
Heather Fairfield
as Carolyn (at 17)
Gloria Cromwell
as Mrs. Marshall
Danitra Vance
as Manicurist Trainee
Julia Elliott
as Latin Assistant
Vickilyn Reynolds
as Nancy, Oliver's Secretary
Jeff Thomas
as Orderly
Prince Hughes
as Bleeding Man
Harlan Arnold
as Mr. Dell
Philip Perlman
as Bidder at Auction
Susan Isaacs
as Autioneer's Assistant
Fred Scialla
as Stand-In
Jacqueline Cassell
as Gavin's Secretary
Eunice Suarez
as Latin Woman
Bethany McKinney
as Carolyn (age 10)
Tyler the Cat
as Kitty Kitty the Cat
Mary Donohue
as Carolyn, Age 3
Morris Jones
as Anchorman
Sue Palka
as Anchorwoman
Shaun Wickers
as Josh, Age 3
Prince A. Hughes
as Bleeding Man
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The War of the Roses

Critic Reviews for The War of the Roses

All Critics (38) | Top Critics (9)

DeVito's taste for unorthodox camera angles and striking camera movements occasionally verges on overreaching but for the most part admirably serves the action.

February 11, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Trying to wring yocks from a deranged couple locked in mortal combat over possession of their house is more suited to film noir than black comedy.

Full Review… | February 11, 2008
Variety
Top Critic

De Vito's quirky camera angles and Kathleen Turner's steely-eyed spite inject a sadistic comic-strip madness into a film that for once has the nerve to see its nastiness through.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

DeVito's direction is distinctively odd (with a lot of low-angle shots looking up at things), enjoyably mischievous and always somehow mindful that there may be, at the heart of all this comic mayhem, something substantial going on.

May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

DeVito triumphs by instilling this caustic satire with truth and consequence.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

[A] deliciously jaundiced perspective on matrimony.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The War of the Roses

½

Oliver Rose: You weren't even multiorgasmic before you met me, were you?  "There is no winning! Only degrees of losing!" It took me a long time to finally watch this movie and it really was worth it. This is a dark comedy out of heaven. I loved everything about it. Danny DeVito's commentary and direction are awesome. And of course Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner give fantastic and fun performances as a married couple who are now dueling for their home. The movie is extremely fun and entertaining.  Oliver and Barbara Rose have been married for 17 years. In those 17 years, they had two kids and Oliver worked himself into a position where he is making loads of money. The family is rich and they buy their dream house. Barbara spends years making the house as perfect as possible, but when she is finally done she realizes that her marriage is no longer a satisfying one. She wants a divorce, but she also wants the house and Oliver isn't going to give that up easy. Basically the whole run time is full of marital disputes and craziness.  Kathleen Turner is so good at playing a bitch. She excels at it to such a degree, that I only think of her as a bitch. Michael Douglas is just Michael Douglas. He's a solid and multidimensional actor who never disappoints. Those two on screen together in this movie are perfect. They much more fun to watch then they were in Romancing The Stone.  The movie is essentially a drama that they playoff as a comedy, and it works really well. These types of Black Comedies don't always work, but when they do, they aren't just good, they're amazing. This is one of those examples. DeVito doesn't make a false step. He brings us into a world of marital hell and he does it with a strong sense of style and wit. 

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

½

Funny movie about a divorce lawyer and his client Oliver Rose. Barbara worked her whole life to provide for her family and make a good home. When the kids are off to college, she wants to set up her own business. Her husband takes no interest. He thinks their life is perfect but she wishes he was dead. They war over their beautiful house. Great cast.

Candy Rose
Candy Rose

Super Reviewer

½

Fun and really dark black comedy about a fighting couple from Danny DeVito.

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

The War of the Roses Quotes

Discussion Forum

Discuss The War of the Roses on our Movie forum!

News & Features