When You're Strange - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

When You're Strange Reviews

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November 17, 2012
Good documentary about the Doors.
October 28, 2012
Not only does it have all the real footage of the Band ..... it also come to life with Johnny Depp's voice
½ October 22, 2012
If your a fan of The Doors I don't see how you won't like it.
October 4, 2012
im a big doors fan those who arnt can be converted.
October 2, 2012
This is a straightforward and somewhat prosaic documentary about The Doors. It's made entirely of archival footage from their time, with narration by Johnny Depp. It covers everything from Jim's early off and on friendship with Robby Krieger, the creation of the band, their rise, and ends with Jim's death. (It ignores the two albums made afterwards as a trio, the first of which was pretty good.) While there's no great vision here, you get red meat. Lots of details on the early days when the band had no idea what they were doing, playing at the Whiskey as the house band, then suddenly getting discovered and delivering a #1 hit - all in just a year! There's great concert footage, the sad stories of Jim's increasingly erratic behavior, and also stories and films of recording sessions, especially for The Soft Parade and L.A. Woman.
August 12, 2012
For fans of The Doors, there's nothing new here. This documentary narrated by Johnny Depp is entertaining and covers everything important of Morrison-era Doors. It's kind of funny to see how close Oliver Stone's biopic is to the real story (and how perfectly cast it was). Whether you're a Doors fan or not, this film is truly a fun watch.
½ July 29, 2012
A totally different experience than Oliver Stone's "I'm-drunk-I'm-nobody-I'm-drunk-I'm-famous-I'm-drunk-I'm-dead" from 1991, but I really like this one as well. Should have lasted 3 hrs though.
July 15, 2012
Good doc. especially if you like The Doors
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ June 13, 2012
Wow, Johnny Depp is about as strange as they come, so he's perfect to narrate this, yet when it came to picking out a writer and director, they really slipped up, because it should have been Oliver Stone. True, he already did the actual film "The Doors", and not at all spotlessly for that matter, yet he was so startlingly perfect to direct a film about The Doors that any less fitting director may as well be John Lasseter. Granted, stepping back and looking at it, considering that all Lasseter makes are cartoons about talking toys and animals, as well as a world populated by also animated and anthropomorphic cars, he sounds perfect to make a film about something as weird as The Doors, yet when you get down to it, no, it wouldn't have worked. Hey, they got Johnny Depp for this, so why not get Tim Burton? Actually, I'm glad they didn't, because Tim Burton would have tried to actually work Johnny Depp into the film, and I don't mean in original footage or something, I mean that he would try to pull some "Forrest Gump" CG and have them edit Johnny Depp into the archival footage as Jim Morrison, and Helena Bonham Carter would be Ray Manzerk. Well, eitherway, while the loss of Oliver Stone is unfortunate, as the surviving members of The Doors definately "won't" tell you, yet Tom DiCillo does a good enough job for this documentary to ultimately satisfy. However, if DiCillo really did slip up as bad as I hear he did at the original narration, which was evidently so bad that they felt that Johnny Depp would be much less monotonic, then it wasn't the only mistake he made with this film.

The film hits occasions of such bits of ultrastylizing as bizarre imagery or superfluous, surrealistically stylized and intermittent dramatisations of, well, I don't know, some guy driving around, ever so occasionally listening about Jim Morrison's death on the radio, and when it does, more often than not, it dives too deeply into that style to the point of being overbearing. These moments of overstylizing don't just hurt the momentum and resonance of the film, but also stand as inconsistent with the general tone and themes of the documentary, momentarily throwing you off and slightly convoluting the documentary, even though the documentary feels a tad lacking in material to convolute. Not even breaking the 90 minute mark, this effort seems to be relatively short among other documentary features on the complex lives and careers of classic musicians, and it's not about to let you forget that, rushing through many of its points and glossing over details, taking little time to meditate upon the material it discusses, much of which is somewhat been-there-done-that. This, combined with limited critical insight, and by extension, much of the human element, leaves the film to ring emotionally hollow and all too brief. To put it simply, the documentary makes quite a few amateur errors and ultimately stands feeling as though it were a TV documentary, complete with limited insight and mostly basic facts, only with a bit more vulgarities and overstylizing. It is an extremely conventional, overly brief and generally hardly memorable documentary. However, what aspects it does succeed at, it strikes with such professional force to keep you invested and actually fascinated, for the most part, or, if nothing else, simply entertained, primarily by the style.

As stated earlier, when the film's style turns into ultrastyle, it's often problematic and overbearing, yet that's to be expected when your film is almost entirely style, even when it's good style, like it very much is in here. The plays with lighting and color in the film are often unique and nifty, with an engaging surrealism that mostly fits the themes and adds character to the film. This can also be said about such other stylized aspects as the editing, which is very cinematic in its snappy livliness that ranges in freneticism to reflect the tones of the film, yet never get overbearing, thus giving the film more intrigue, which goes further intensified by, well, believe it or not, the narration. This documentary's narration has come quite a ways from director and writer Tom DiCillo's reportedly dull voice, because with all of my joking about Johnny Depp's also being monotone and perhaps too fitting for a documentary on The Doors, there's no mistaking Depp's presence, not just because of his familiar smooth and cool voice, but because he incorporates his usual charisma of somewhat dark charm and livliness, fitting this documentary like a glove and coating it in appealing texture. Wow, Johnny Depp can't even narrate a documentary without being winningly charming, and thank goodness for that, as it really ups the intrigue of an already entertaining film that also, for all of its underwhelming faults in storytelling, stands as pretty informative. Call Oliver Stone's "The Doors" dubious as much as you want, because even I will, yet there were still plenty of aspects in it that were right on the money, so if you've seen that film, then you've basically seen almost all of the points that this documentary hits, yet that doesn't land much of a blow to this film's engagement and informative value. Sure, the film isn't extensive or comfortable enough in its studies, with only so much of the human touch for it to transcend general underwhelmingness, yet with all of its faults, it's a fine documentary to touch upon, with consistent entertainment value to compliment its ultimately fascinating structure and leave it an ultimately worthy watch.

Getting to "the end, my friend" (Get it? Look it up), the film's occasions of overstylizing somewhat throws off its momentum, as well as its consistency, yet what stands as most problematic is the limiting of the human touch and extensive insight and meditation amidst its much too brief length, thus leaving it underwhelming to the point of being somewhat forgettable, yet with a razor-sharp and fitting style and editing, as well as Johnny Depp's thoroughly charismatic narration that livens up generally fascinating material, "When You're Strange" ultimately stands as a consistently entertaining and mostly engaging study on the rise and fall of the classic surreal rock band, particularly its notoriously rocky frontman.

2.5/5 - Fair
June 12, 2012
best soundtrack with video ever heard
June 2, 2012
Dose not stay longer then welcome . Thanks for the great music drunkey
May 10, 2012
Captures the 60's. Strange.
May 6, 2012
Interessante documentário, detalha bem mais da vida do Morrison do que o filme do Stone
April 22, 2012
Fascinating if a touch pretentiously narrated look into one of musics most talented artists
April 8, 2012
it was awesome to see all this footage of jim morrison and the doors. And to hear johnny depp tell their story made it even better
March 30, 2012
Factual based doco with fantastic footage of the group. If its ur first introduction to Jim Morrison and The Doors, it is spellbinding to watch Morrison's stage persona and not be captivated by his genius and his madness. For those who have seen Oliver Stone's biopic, this is a factual account of the band's career and their influence on popular music. You will also walk away from this doco with amazing appreciation of Val Kilmer's portrayal of Jim Morrison, which was one of the finest portrayals of a past figure ever on film!
March 4, 2012
"When You're Strange" funciona essencialmente como um best-of cronológico dos Doors acompanhado por imagens de arquivo e anotações biográficas, sem esquecer tambà (C)m aqueles episódios mais ou menos escandalosos que todos já conhecemos da dose Oliver Stone e dos documentários na televisão por cabo. Funciona? Claro, mas qualquer filme dominado pela música dos Doors teria hipóteses de ser marcante e proporcionar um bom bocado a quem vê (ajuda a isso o facto da banda parecer realmente interessada em divertir-se numa sà (C)rie de momentos registados no documentário). Mas a grande diferença deste "When You're Strange" para o biopic de Oliver Stone está na diminuição da componente caricatural (atà (C) porque não tem Val Kilmer) e na sobriedade com que conta uma história pouco sóbria. Ou seja, sem montagens do sol a subir e a descer no deserto, sem visões místicas e sem nativos americanos a dançar nos concertos. Apesar de tudo, "A film about the Doors" à (C) um subtítulo enganador e sobejamente subversivo: "When you're strange" à (C) muito mais sobre Jim Morrison do que sobre o quarteto que se formou quando dois amigos se encontraram em Venice Beach. Os estigmas culturais do costume ditam o rumo do filme e mais de dois terços da duração são uma bajulação dedicada ao carisma e habilidades de rock star de Jim Morrison. O gà (C)nio de Robby Krieger fica na sombra, mesmo quando se sabe que tanta da música dos Doors passava por ele. Mas o cabelo palha-de-aço de Robby Krieger não fica assim tão bem num poster ou numa transmissão televisiva, e a história, como sabemos, privilegia sempre os bem aparecidos. "When you're strange" à (C) muito mais a prova disso do que um retrato aprofundado e necessário sobre essa grande banda que foram os Doors. 3/5
½ February 26, 2012
Pretty good, though the acted scenes were unnecessary padding.
February 22, 2012
a rare kind of documentary indeed, with its poem, song, and feel of those years to come

a rarity, an art
Super Reviewer
½ February 21, 2012
And the Doors legend continues to be happily milked. Just how many "Best of...," "Very Best of...," "Ultimate...," "Greatest Hits of..." anthologies are we up to now?

The best reason to see "When You're Strange" is the footage from Morrison's obscure "HWY" film. These clips serve the new documentary so well that I hear some suspicious fans accused the director of using a stand-in actor. Nope, it's really the bearded Morrison wandering around those desert highways. I would have been quite excited to see this material, except that I coincidentally saw the entire "HWY" on YouTube quite recently (it's about 50 minutes long).

Otherwise, "When You're Strange" is a mixed success. The narration is poorly written, and loaded with banalities. I felt embarrassed for Johnny Depp. I was also leery of all the "creative" syncs of *this* video with *that* audio from somewhere else...particularly the indulgent insertion of professional Doors fawner Jim Ladd in the beginning. The hoary documentary cliche of running casual footage in slow motion for artificial "portent" is also used to excess.

There was some good material I hadn't seen before, though. Highlights included shots of the Soft Parade recording sessions, a scene with Morrison comforting a bloodied concert fan and a fine 1969 version of "The End." Otherwise, it's mostly flashes of informal, handheld clips which will provoke a smile here and there.

Biographically speaking, I was surprised there was no mention of the controversy surrounding the string arrangements added to the Soft Parade album. There was also no time spent on what may be the greatest of all unanswered Doors mysteries: Why did Morrison's eyebrows turn so blonde near the end of his life?
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