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J. Edgar Review Critics


Dave White Profile

From the mixed-up files of... Read full review


Grae Drake Profile

Oscar bait and switch. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

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

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 20

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    J. Edgar, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, is at war with itself, and everyone loses...Mr. Eastwood's ponderous direction, a clumsy script by Dustin Lance Black and ghastly slatherings of old-age makeup all conspire to put the story at an emotional and historical distance. It's a partially animated waxworks.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    J. Edgar shines a probing beam of light on a man who was widely feared, often disliked, but rarely understood.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    DiCaprio does more than disappear behind steely glasses and prosthetic old-age makeup. He transforms himself, in a feat of acting, from the inside out.

    Read Full Review

  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    This surprising collaboration between director Clint Eastwood and "Milk" screenwriter Dustin Lance Black tackles its trickiest challenges with plausibility and good sense, while serving up a simmeringly caustic view of its controversial subject's behavior, public and private.

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  • See all J. Edgar reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 15+

Well-acted biopic tackles complex character; OK for teens.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Clint Eastwood-directed biopic about longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is rated R primarily for a couple of brief but notable scenes of strong language (including "f--k"). J. Edgar focuses on both Hoover's career and his personal life, especially the never-defined relationship with longtime companion Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). While the movie raises questions about Hoover's sexuality that it doesn't answer, there's no actual sex in it (though one scene features apparent recorded noises of an amorous couple). Expect a few violent fist fights and shoot outs.

  • Families can talk about Hoover's relationship with Tolson. Were they friends or more than friends? Do you think the film is asking a question that can never really be answered? Should it be?
  • Was Hoover a reliable narrator? Do you think his memories are accurate?
  • Do you consider Hoover a role model? What does the movie say about the motivations of people in a position of power? Are they always noble?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: The message at the heart of J. Edgar is to be true to yourself, or every part of your life will be based on a false foundation. The movie suggests that Hoover's inability to be honest about his own identity possibly contributed to an excess of zeal in criminal investigations of sometimes questionable legality.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Hoover dedicates his life to the FBI and his country; while his devotion is admirable, his tactics are questionable, and it's far from clear that the people and groups he judges as criminal are really deserving of his barely constitutional methods. He also has personal animosity toward minorities and "radicals."

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: A few scenes feature fist fights and shoot outs.

  • sex false2

    Sex: The undefined nature of Hoover's relationship with his assistant makes the question of sex, and sexual identity, an important part of the film. One scene involves a surveillance audiotape that seems to have recorded the sounds of people having sex.

  • language false3

    Language: Infrequent swearing; when the words "c--ksucker" and "f--king" are heard (in two scenes), they stand out since the rest of the film is so lacking in profanity. Also "for God's sake" as an exclamation.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some social drinking, though Hoover was a teetotaler and actively discouraged people from drinking, on and off the job. Some smoking (accurate for the time period).