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Awakenings Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    After seeing Awakenings, I read it, to know more about what happened in that Bronx hospital. What both the movie and the book convey is the immense courage of the patients and the profound experience of their doctors, as in a small way they reexperienced what it means to be born, to open your eyes and discover to your astonishment that "you" are alive.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    De Niro's widely praised performance is like the rest of the film: competent, a product of hard work and borderline mechanical. I like much of Awakenings, including several supporting performances - but like Big, it left me just a little cold. [20 Dec 1990, p.5D]

  • 50

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Dave Kehr

    Awakenings is a film that unquestionably succeeds on its own terms, though those terms are deeply suspect. It is a canny piece of false art, one that consistently swaps meaning for superficial effect. [20 Dec 1990, p.1]

  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    And so even if you're held (as I was) by the acting, you may find yourself fighting the film's design. It reflects a certain lack of faith in your audience to take a performance as authentic as De Niro's and reduce it to the level of a glorified reach-out-and-touch-someone commercial.

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  • 90

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Julie Salamon

    The director Penny Marshall has gone straight to the heart of this complex story and made a powerfully poignant and illuminating film. She doesn't hesitate to push for the grand sentimental moment, but balances the teary stuff with restraint and humor. To be sure, Awakenings seems calculated to induce weeping -- and it does, without making the weeper feel cheap. [20 Dec 1990, p.A14]

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 10+

Robin Williams plays it serious in moving true story.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a moving story and may be tough on sensitive viewers.

  • Families can talk about what they think the neurologist means when he says, "because the implications of that would be unthinkable?" Why would he prefer to believe that the patients are not aware of what is going on? Were you surprised by the way any of the patients reacted to being "awakened?" Which reaction was most like the way you think you might feel? Why is it hard for Malcolm to interact with other people? How does Leonard change the way Malcolm behaves? Why does the staff treat the patients differently after the awakening, even when they go back the way they were?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Theme of respecting the humanity of those who are different.

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence: Sad, but not scary.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Not an issue

  • language false2

    Language: A few expletives.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue