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Burn After Reading Review Critics


Dave White Profile

So yeah, everyone’s involved and the circles close in smaller and smaller until people get hurt, including the audience. Read full 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.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    The movie is overplowed, even if Brad Pitt's debut as a Coen comedy player is eye-catching.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    It's a cheerful trifle tossed off by the Coen brothers in their self-enchanted mode, an approach to comedy that shrugs off comedy's cardinal rule -- Don't Act Funny.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    Joel and Ethan Coen clearly are in a prankish mood, knocking out a minor piece of silliness with all the trappings of an A-list studio movie.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    It's consistently funny -- with witty dialogue and offbeat banter that stays in your head for days.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    The characters are zany, the plot coils upon itself with dizzy zeal, and the roles seem like a perfect fit for the actors -- yes, even Brad Pitt, as Chad, a gum-chewing, fuzzy-headed physical fitness instructor. I've always thought of him as a fine actor, but here he reveals a dimension that, shall I say, we haven't seen before.

    Read Full Review

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Quirky, violent Coen comedy isn't meant for kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this quirky comic thriller has much in common with others in the Coen brothers' canon: It's very funny and very violent. There's plenty of sex (though not much nudity) and swearing ("f--k"s galore), and characters drink, like, manipulate, and whatever else they need to do to promote their own selfish interests. But teens may still want to see it, both because it stars Brad Pitt and George Clooney and because so many of the Coens' previous comedies have become cult favorites (Fargo, Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski).

  • Families can talk about whether any of the characters in the movie can be considered role models. What motivates them to behave the way they do? What do they have in common with characters in other Coen brothers movies? How does the movie as a whole stack up against the Coens' other films? Families can also discuss how a mountain is made out of a molehill in the movie. How does the situation escalate so quickly? Teens: Have you ever found yourself in circumstances that spun out of control? What did you do?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Everyone in the movie is a liar, pursuing selfish ends. Husbands and wives cheat on each other; one man trolls online dating sites for sex partners and then lies shamelessly to get them into bed; another hides the fact that he's been fired; and two other people try to pass themselves off as spies to sell stolen documents. Even the characters who initially seem like good people end up displaying their darker, pettier side.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Several moments of violence -- involving fists, guns, knives, and an axe -- pop up so suddenly that they're quite startling. The fights are realistic, bloody, and gory. People are killed, their bodies disposed of. Some characters also use cars as weapons, intentionally ramming into other vehicles.

  • sex false4

    Sex: Some scenes show people having sex -- sound effects, but no nudity. The couples are shown talking in bed afterward, presumably naked under the covers. One character builds an elaborate sex chair with an extremely crass sexual accessory, which he shows off to a date.

  • language false4

    Language: Plenty of swearing, including "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and more. Every character's vocabulary is liberally peppered with curses.

  • consumerism false4

    Consumerism: Some brands of alcohol are referred to by name and/or shown on screen. Several characters' cars are shown repeatedly, including their logos. One fitness-obsessed man is insulted when his fancy bike is described as a "Schwinn." He's also practically glued to his iPod. There are mentions of PCs, Macs, and Gatorade, as well as logos for Safeway, 7-Eleven, and Tropicana.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Osborne Cox drinks often, and some scenes show him carefully preparing his beverages. In several scenes, he's clearly drunk. A coworker says Cox has a drinking problem, sending him into a rage.