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Ed Wood 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

    USA Today Mike Clark

    Half-factual, half-fanciful and all funny, this labor of love is also unexpectedly touching. [28 September 1994, Life, p.5D]

  • 100

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    A comedy of the ridiculous in which the ridiculous turns unexpectedly sublime.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Gene Siskel

    One of those rare films that communicates the exquisite joy of the moviemaking process. [7 October 1994, Friday, p.B]

  • 63

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    The most interesting personality in Ed Wood is not the title character, but Bela Lugosi. So covered up with makeup that he's barely recognizable, Martin Landau gives a deeply-felt performance -- a eerie and stunning recreation of a man haunted by lost fame.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    What Burton has made is a film which celebrates Wood more than it mocks him, and which celebrates, too, the zany spirit of 1950s exploitation films - in which a great title, a has-been star and a lurid ad campaign were enough to get bookings for some of the oddest films ever made.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 15+

Depp-led cult-director bio delves into cross-dressing, kink.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this comedic look at a real-life movie eccentric has strong language and discussions of transvestism, homosexuality, and gender-reassignment surgery (viewers see the cross-dressing, but no surgery). Drinking, smoking, IV-drug use (not seen), and the death of real-life star Bela Lugosi come up in the plot. There's a threatened suicide by gun, and Wood and his cronies engage in unethical behavior to raise funds for their movies. Young viewers who become interested in Ed Wood through this film might learn that Wood's career ended in assorted forms of pornographic media and chronic alcoholism.

  • Families can talk about notorious filmmaker Ed Wood. Does this depiction successfully make him into a hero, or does he come off as pathetic? Would Wood be considered a role model to anyone?
  • Talk about horror movies and their appeal. How are Wood's horror movies different from those in theaters today?
  • What makes a movie "good" or "bad"? How can something be unspeakably terrible and still wildly entertaining?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: The movie's plot suggests that artistic creativity (here, filmmaking) has intrinsic value and nobility -- even if you're making poor quality stuff. Despite ludicrous scripts and inept methods, Wood has the same travails, passion, and legitimacy as his idol, Orson Welles. The film suggests that Wood's cross-dressing obsession, combined with his film ambitions, helps him befriend and understand people who would otherwise be outcasts.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: The characters are a motley bunch with a mix of good and bad traits. Ed Wood is ever-upbeat and confident, able to inspire the team around him. He's also an ambitious guy looking out for No. 1; his career-oriented actions are sometimes illegal and usually self-serving. Despite his wretched state (addiction, mood swings, poverty), Bela Lugosi seems to represent a lost era of Tinseltown glamor and class.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence: A suicidal Bela Lugosi brandishes a revolver. Ed is hit with a frying pan in a domestic dispute.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Transvestism is a big part of the plot, with talk about sex-change operations ("he had his thing cut off"), female-to-male hormone injections, and similar gender mixtures. Both Bela Lugosi and a little boy lust after a buxom character's "jugs." Topless and scantily clad women in paintings. Actresses shown in low-cut outfits and bras. Ed Wood and his girlfriend live together.

  • language false4

    Language: "Screw," "s--t," "f--k," "c--ksucker," "a--hole," "hell," plus "God" and "Jesus" used as exclamations.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The ailing Bela Lugosi is depicted as a drug addict (injecting narcotics just off camera), a habit he tries to kick -- and gets some unexpected good PR from the scandal. Social and saloon drinking. Characters smoke cigarettes and cigars.