Metascore
61

Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. For my money the most gloriously, enchantingly trivial play in the Shakespearean canon, A Midsummer Night's Dream may also be the most screwup-proof of the bard's works.
  2. 88
    A thoroughly enjoyable piece of cinema that does credit to its director and cast.
  3. 80
    Hoffman (Soapdish, One Fine Day) leads a first-rate cast in an intelligent, fully realized adaptation of Shakespeare's most popular comedy that's at once highly cinematic and true to its source.
  4. Reviewed by: M. V. Moorhead
    80
    One of the best of the many delights of director Michael Hoffman's new film -- is that he manages to have it both ways -- the gauzy fantasy and the bacchanal.
  5. Reviewed by: Jane Horwitz
    80
    Only the title is clunky in this felicitous marriage of cinematic trickery, theatrical whimsy and the Bard's fabulous tale.
  6. Most of the original play's magical speeches are preserved here, and however far this film may seem to stray from the original text, the delights remain. [14 May 1999, Friday, p.A]
  7. A gorgeous sliver of grown-up ambrosia.
  8. A playful, sexy piece of work -- just what the Bard might have conjured up for a movie adaptation of his beloved spring-fever comedy.
  9. The well chosen cast helps -- no one strikes a false note.
  10. 75
    It is an enchanted folly suggesting that romance is a matter of chance, since love is blind; at the right moment we are likely to fall in love with the first person our eyes light upon.
  11. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    70
    Hoffman has wedged the play into a weirdly inapposite setting, has stupidly cut and even more stupidly embellished it, and has miscast it almost to a player. And yet the damn thing works: Shakespeare staggers through, mutilated but triumphant.
  12. Hoffman introduces a memorable sensuality to the movie.
  13. 63
    The major flaw, the clash of acting styles, is at least fascinating to observe. [14 May 1999, Life, p.8E]
  14. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    60
    Whimsical, intermittently enjoyable but decidedly unmagical.
  15. Reviewed by: Jack Kroll
    60
    Uneven but spunkily energetic movie.
  16. Reviewed by: Alice King
    58
    Kline turns in a bravura performance -- he's one of the few in this star-packed cast who actually knows what to do with Shakespeare's poetry.
  17. Shakespeare's comical, all-too-human tale of lust, foreplay and wordplay is buried beneath bad taste.
  18. 50
    The set design is gung-ho Hallmark (Tinkerbell lights, that sort of thing) with a strong whiff of Fellini (the fairy glade looks like a pre-Raphaelite red-light district).
  19. A parade of incongruities, with performances ranging from the sublime to the you-know-what.
  20. If the picture is often less spellbinding than it wants to be, it's partly Hoffman's fault for creating fantasy moods through traditional stage devices -- lavish props, cute makeup, peek-a-boo costumes -- that seem rather tame for this age of morphed-up visual surprises.
  21. 50
    The early scenes whir and buzz along to create quite a pleasing clamor.
  22. 50
    A thoroughly respectable affair: Your high school English teacher would approve, and parts are terrifically enjoyable.
  23. This is a chance to see Shakespeare with mud wrestling, something the Bard surely would have put in if only he'd thought of it himself… Though the actors have no major problems handling the language, the whole venture is listless when it should be sparkling. Shakespeare, even with mud wrestling, needn't be quite so much of a slog. [14 May 1999, Calendar, p.F-6]
  24. 40
    Kevin Kline does his best movie work yet as Nick Bottom...But in most other ways this "Midsummer Night" is hard to endure.
User Score
6.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 21 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 6
  2. Negative: 1 out of 6
  1. Mar 14, 2014
    7
    A Midsummer Night's Dream is faithful towards the famous play by Shakespeare, but it seems a bit dull. The performances are fine, and theA Midsummer Night's Dream is faithful towards the famous play by Shakespeare, but it seems a bit dull. The performances are fine, and the scenery is quaint, but the movie just seems a bit off-center. Full Review »
  2. Jwv
    Jan 21, 2014
    5
    The acting in general was not very convincing, especially not as is required for a good Shakespearean rendition. Most lines are utteredThe acting in general was not very convincing, especially not as is required for a good Shakespearean rendition. Most lines are uttered without real feeling and with clichéd emotion, facial expression and gesture. Calista Flockhart (Helena), Sam Rockwell (Francis Flute; especially in the play-in-the-play) and Kevin Kline (Bottom) were best, my favourite being Calista Flockhart who brings Helena's emotions convincingly with great authenticity. I have read that "this was Kevin Kline's play", but I disagree because the character of Bottom has a lot of potential as a funny Shakespearean stereotype (but this was probably acted out under the director's guidance). Only in the end did he really show himself in the play-in-the-play. Michelle Pfeiffer (Titania) and especially Rupert Everett (Oberon) show us that the failing fairies' relationship was not only due to adultery and jealousy, but also because of the lack of emotional depth in their relationship - which speaks out of their performance. The biggest disappointment is that I don't see the Shakespearean stereotypes played out on screen, Bottom is supposed to be the idiot with a carpe diem lifestyle, but he is portrayed too gravely, which stifles a lot of potential humorous approaches to the character. Puck also didn't come to life as the witty and mischievous knave he is. I also feel that the director could have done more with the mute characters on screen, their short scenes are there to set a mood, but they seem superfluous.

    The soundtrack was nothing spectacular and the sound-effects and background noises were cheap clichés we see everywhere nowadays (cf. forest background sounds). Most of the actors' voice-acting was also uninspired, and does not do homage to the verbal virtuosity of Shakespeare's play.

    I sincerely wonder whether the director knows of the potential comedy that lurks in the play, because I did not have the feeling that I was watching a comedy at all. The play-in-a-play was in it's 10-minute totality more funny than the whole 100 preceding minutes. There were no genuinely funny situations, and the movie was absolutely not original in creating these, Instead, it relied too much on the inherent comedy of the incompatibility of some characters and emotions in certain situations, and so took a too passive and unoriginal approach. The movie lets a lot of very obvious occasions of potential funny situations slip by, even the potential very comic situation with the chink in the wall slip (hint: "I kiss the wall's hole, not your lips at all"). The only scene that comes closest to a comic situation is when Helena runs away from a chasing Demetrius and Lysander, but even this scene was more dramatic than funny. Bottom's lying with Titania too was also disappointing.
    Full Review »
  3. Nov 15, 2013
    4
    Even at 116 minutes, I thought that "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was so goddamn long. Honestly, it's boring as hell. There's absolutely noEven at 116 minutes, I thought that "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was so goddamn long. Honestly, it's boring as hell. There's absolutely no funny scenes, nothing exciting or intense, and it's overall just a dull mess. Full Review »