Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 28
  2. Negative: 1 out of 28
  1. 90
    Holds us in a state of horrified empathy.
  2. 100
    One of the year's best films for a lot of reasons, including its ability to involve the audience almost breathlessly in a story of mounting tragedy.
  3. 88
    The characters are at the heart of A Simple Plan, and the gruesome complexity of their interaction elevates this film to the level of a midwinter treat.
  4. Sensitive performances and intelligent storytelling keep the sometimes-violent tale involving from start to finish, marking a giant step for director Raimi, previously known for action stories and over-the-top fantasies.
  5. [Raimi]'s drawn lovely, complex performances from Paxton and Thornton and proven that he can work effectively -- and movingly -- in a minor emotional key.
  6. But the stuff looks like what it is -- trite imagery grafted over the narrative barrens, like a bad weave on a balding pate.
  7. Reviewed by: Ron Wells
    80
    Thornton's Jacob initially comes across as the love child of Elmer Fudd and Butthead, but ends up as the best role he's ever had.
  8. 70
    Their downward spiral is like a slow-motion highway pileup: You might think you don't want to watch, but you can't tear your eyes away.
  9. 78
    It's not perfect -- Thornton's slack-jawed yokel Jacob is played a bit wide of the mark and Fonda continues to irk in some indefinable way -- but it's a revelation for longtime Raimi fans. And it's a hell of a ride too, for both Raimi fans and newcomers alike.
  10. Lean, elegant, and emotionally complex -- a marvel of backwoods classicism.
  11. 100
    In one of the sweetest ironies of the entire film year, Sam Raimi has made an A-movie with the soul of a B-movie classic.
  12. 100
    But [Raimi]'s instructed his fabulous Style to take a hike, and, working from Scott Smith's brilliantly reconfigured script from Smith's own (much darker) novel, delivers a piece that is severe and disciplined in its evocation of the cold terrors of fate.
  13. With elegant, clockwork construction, Smith has transplanted his novel of greed, betrayal and getting what you deserve to the screen, where it is told by director Sam Raimi with a spareness befitting the whiteness of its snowed-in setting.
  14. 90
    As straightforward in narrative as it is gut-wrenching in effect, A Simple Plan is a sort of slow-motion skid down an icy blacktop— it's a movie you watch with a mounting sense of dread...[It's] an extremely credible thriller and an affecting brother-story.
  15. When you get the shivers watching this wintry tale unfold, it won't be from the cold.
  16. 90
    Money Can't Buy You Happiness. It hasn't been this vividly re-examined in decades, and we're the richer for it.
  17. Reviewed by: Joshua Klein
    80
    Both simplifies and brings into focus the already simple and effective thriller.
  18. Reviewed by: Jack Matthews
    80
    The role of Jacob is greatly expanded from the book, and the unsatisfying way that Smith and Raimi resolve the brothers' relationship in the movie is the only major change--major compromise--made in transporting the novel to the screen.
  19. Reviewed by: Glen Lovell
    80
    The key differences are in emphasis and tone: “Fargo” is deadpan noir; A Simple Plan, with Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton as Mutt and Jeff siblings, is a more robust Midwestern Gothic that owes as much to Poe as Chandler.
  20. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    60
    There's something decidedly mechanical about this intermittently gripping movie's bleak view of human nature.
  21. The script dawdles, and in spite of a good cast--Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton (who's especially resourceful), Bridget Fonda, and Brent Briscoe--the movie tends to amble around its points rather than drive straight toward the heart of the matter.
  22. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    30
    There's neither intricacy nor surprise in the narrative, and these dopes are tedious, witless company. Mostly you find yourself thinking, "How long until dinner?"
  23. 88
    Generates genuine tension because it's propelled by actual human feeling, which, these days, turns out to be a surprisingly thrilling prospect. [11 Dec 1998]
  24. It's a Master "Plan."
  25. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    88
    The plan in A Simple Plan grows exponentially complex once the first dollar is purloined, an act that makes this unpretentious parable one of the season's better 'what's-going-to-happen-next?' movies.
  26. Works a familiar mine and produces more than a few nuggets. It's a good tonic, if one's still needed, for '80s-style cynicism: Greed is not good.
  27. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    90
    An unleashed Raimi may be a more exciting moviemaker, but there's something to be said for the virtues of a good story well told, which describes A Simple Plan down to its last shivery snowflake.
  28. Reviewed by: Sean Means
    80
    What makes A Simple Plan an exciting, thoughtful thriller isn't the plot twists, but the twists and turns of Hank's tortured conscience as one lie leads to bigger and deadlier deceits.
User Score
8.5

Universal acclaim- based on 29 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. Dec 17, 2012
    7
    All the performances are very good but I thought Billy Bob Thornton was truly excellent in this. He really nailed his performance of this slightly dim-witted man who is, at heart, quite lonely. Also worthy of note were Bill Paxton and Bridget Fonda. Aside from the performances I did find this one didn Full Review »
  2. Feb 26, 2011
    10
    This absolutely fantastic film is one of my all time favorites, with the added benefit of being watchable a seemingly endless number of times. From the opening words of wisdom from the main character,and the subsequent disintegration of the fabric of normal life for everyone involved, it plays out, in a quiet, understated fashion, a sordid tale that bombards your senses with its seriousness, believability and stunning awfulness. Full Review »