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The Pelican Brief 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.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Variety Brian Lowry

    Tilling some of the same conspiracy turf he explored in "All the President's Men," Pakula has improved on Grisham's book by excising much of the detritus, crafting a taut, intelligent thriller that succeeds on almost every level.

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  • 42

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Ty Burr

    Pakula insists that The Pelican Brief is haute cuisine, and the seriousness nearly wrecks it.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    The final result is an unnecessarily-long thriller that contains far more talking than action. Pakula's direction is lackluster, showing little of the style that permeated his two most impressive pictures, "All the President's Men" and "Presumed Innocent".

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  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    Until its dopey coda, the film never all-out stumbles, but always exudes Pakula's trademark chilliness. [17 Dec 1993 Pg. 01.D]

  • 70

    out of 100

    The New York Times Elvis Mitchell

    The story, neatly compressed, unfolds in dependable and photogenic ways. And it is coaxed along by Mr. Pakula's considerable skills as a brisk, methodical film maker.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    By casting attractive stars in the leads, by finding the right visual look, by underlining the action with brooding, ominously sad music, a good director can create the illusion of meaning even when nothing's there.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Talky political thriller won't engage kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this film is relatively free of foul language, violence, or explicit sex. But one brief scene features a murder in a porno theater; the main character is shown in a heavy clinch with a boyfriend, and several characters are killed over the course of the film (though gore is at a minimum).

  • Families can talk about the way that political thrillers dramatize events that could have happened in real life. Conversations on the role of the whistle-blower, and the responsibility of citizens to speak up when they see wrongdoing, might also be sparked by this movie.

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: As in any political thriller, there are plenty of "bad guys."

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Characters killed.

  • sex false3

    Sex: One brief scene features a murder in a porno theater.

  • language false3

    Language: Some profanity.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: A hotel chain is mentioned.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue