Metascore
67

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 33
  2. Negative: 1 out of 33
  1. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Feb 18, 2011
    88
    That character flaw makes for some great shock-fueled laughs in Lewis' film -- Giamatti does full-on comic rage as well as anyone.
  2. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jan 19, 2011
    88
    Giamatti's performance is one of those achievements. He is making a career of playing unremarkable but memorable men.
  3. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jan 12, 2011
    83
    Paul Giamatti, dialing down his trembly-voiced neurotic energy to good effect, gives a holy hell of a performance as Barney Panofsky.
  4. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jan 27, 2011
    80
    Whatever it is, Giamatti finds it and sells it. And despite a few dead ends with the story, I'm buying.
  5. Reviewed by: Liz Beardsworth
    Jan 24, 2011
    80
    While perhaps a touch overlong and with plot strands that don't hang together as well as they might, this is remains a triumph, illuminated by a terrific leading man turn from Paul Giamatti.
  6. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jan 14, 2011
    80
    By the time Barney gets one final, heartbreaking chance to screw things up, this rich, satisfying film has you hooked.
  7. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Jan 13, 2011
    80
    Whatever the film's flaws, and like its protagonist, there are times when things get a bit out of control, watching Giamatti use Barney to wrestle with success, failure, friendship, love and increasingly with time is exhilarating.
  8. Reviewed by: Barbara Goslawski
    Dec 6, 2010
    80
    Barney's Version is one of those rare films whose caricature of life undeniably illuminates. It's the vivid story of the topsy-turvy character so flawed you love him despite yourself.
  9. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Feb 24, 2011
    75
    It's a breezy and charming film in all, well-acted, playful and filled with real joie de vivre.
  10. Reviewed by: Carrie Rickey
    Feb 3, 2011
    75
    That rumpled grumpus Paul Giamatti seizes the title role in Barney's Version, summoning irresistibility and irritability to create a character as endearing as he is galling.
  11. Reviewed by: Dan Kois
    Jan 28, 2011
    75
    If Richard J. Lewis's film can't re-create the novel's complex stew of grievances, dirty jokes and misremembered anecdotes, it's still a warm tribute.
  12. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Jan 27, 2011
    75
    Driver's over-the-top Jewish Canadian Princess performance is so stereotypical it's downright embarrassing in a film that otherwise treats its imperfect characters with respect even when they're at their worst.
  13. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jan 20, 2011
    75
    Giamatti and Pike are backed by a strong cast, including Minnie Driver, lots of fun as Barney's Jewish princess second wife.
  14. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Jan 13, 2011
    75
    Paul Giamatti brings just the right blend of irascible charm and caustic intelligence to the role of Barney.
  15. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Dec 25, 2010
    75
    A feisty domestic comedy about a curmudgeon with a heart, looking back over his misspent life.
  16. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Dec 6, 2010
    75
    An overstuffed odyssey that, while disappointing on many levels, has standout performances by Paul Giamatti.
  17. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Jan 17, 2011
    70
    If Giamatti's particular brand of sad-eyed misanthropy floats your boat, you'll enjoy Barney's Version, an overcrammed and galumphing movie that nonetheless provides a bracing jolt of pure, uncut Giamatti.
  18. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Dec 6, 2010
    70
    Barney's Version is too much of a sprawl to have much of a lasting emotional effect.
  19. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Dec 6, 2010
    70
    In spite of Mr. Giamatti's ferociously energetic performance Barney's Version never figures out just who Barney is.
  20. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Mar 3, 2011
    67
    The performances are superlative, as is much of the film's Jewish flavor. The ham is barely noticeable.
  21. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Feb 16, 2011
    67
    Giamatti is a superb expressionist of emotional flotsam, with a Golden Globe for his effort.
  22. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Jan 13, 2011
    67
    The film, lacking narration or much explanation of the character, is an outsider's version rather than his own. It's intriguing, but almost always frustrating.
  23. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Jan 12, 2011
    67
    The highbrow intentions of Barney's Version suffer from a constant pile up of dead ends.
  24. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Feb 16, 2011
    63
    Melodramatic, impulsive, painful, but never quite "totally unnecessary."
  25. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Feb 11, 2011
    63
    Barney's Version has episodes instead of plot, outbursts instead of wit and alibis instead of growth.
  26. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Feb 3, 2011
    63
    A smart, well-acted two hours at the art house, full of witty observations and fellow feeling. But, really, it has no business being a movie.
  27. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jan 20, 2011
    63
    The movie version of that life, directed by Richard J. Lewis, gives the adaptation an earnest go. But the script lacks juice.
  28. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jan 13, 2011
    63
    Rosamund Pike is perfection as Barney's true love, and Dustin Hoffman makes magic as Barney's randy dad. It's acting heaven.
  29. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Dec 6, 2010
    60
    Even if you can forgive the crude JAP caricatures (et tu Minnie Driver?) and the blatantness of the film's attempts to make you sob, you're still left with lovely actors stuck in a lackluster cover version of the real thing.
  30. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Feb 17, 2011
    50
    The filmmakers try to make us sympathize with Barney by surrounding him with even more annoying types.
  31. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Jan 20, 2011
    50
    Not having read the Richler novel, I can't comment on the movie's fidelity to it, but this has the overstuffed feel of a sprawling, life-spanning story that's been wrestled down to feature length.
  32. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Jan 11, 2011
    50
    Barney's Version misses every opportunity for raucous picaresque fun that the book throws its way, while squandering a wealth of transatlantic performing talent led by Paul Giamatti.
  33. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Dec 6, 2010
    38
    A sour, plotless and witless comedy-drama based on the final Mordecai Richler novel, wants to remind you of "Sideways" and its forlorn drink-moistened soul search. Giamatti is an ideal casting choice, but even this talented actor can't sell a lovable-jerk
User Score
6.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 47 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 15
  2. Negative: 3 out of 15
  1. Mar 13, 2012
    6
    Barney's Version is not a perfect film, not by a long shot but it's clever enough in its writing and execution to be enjoyable despite the fact it is a film cut up into three separate sections and neither one ever really meshes with the other.
    Regardless of that, the film is a powerhouse in terms of acting performances with both Rosamund Pike and Dustin Hoffman giving career highlight performances. However the film belongs to Paul Giamatti as Barney because through his performance you can just about get past the jarring splitting up of the films narrative because the performance is so strong you'd follow it anywhere. That being said the split is incredibly noticeable with each part feeling almost like a different film. The first chapter is dark and twisted with some very black comedy and probably the most involving 30 minutes of the film. The second is lighter with a move towards more sarcastic humour which after a while grates, like Minnie Driver's character. It also includes a murder/accident plot that although important never feels relevant making the middle section of the film the weakest of the three. The final section is emotional, maybe a little too emotional, but it also explores the mundaneness of married life and how Barney has been affected by the people in his life better than the other two combined. With all this in mind it is a film that feels like it was made by three different people trying to say three different things and for that reason it can't be as powerful, moving or involving as it wants or needs to be, leading to an ending that should be poignant and bitter-sweet, but instead is entertaining but never powerful.
    Full Review »
  2. Jun 18, 2011
    7
    A very enjoyable movie. Its something you would watch on a rainy sunday afternoon. It is not memorable by any means but it has a good start and an excellent ending. Probably because the main character is not an overtly nice guy , it does detract somewhat from the experience; but when should movie making always feature a redeeming character! One to watch for sure. Full Review »
  3. Mar 13, 2011
    7
    Barney Panofsky is a complex character: obnoxious, unsympathetic, romantic, sensitive and a little bit sweet. Although there are friends and family, most of the narrative revolves around his relationship with his three wives. As Barney, Paul Giamatti makes the film worth watching. He brilliantly examines all sides of this complex character. What's hard is that every scene goes on too long (which makes the movie too long) and Barney keeps repeating his bad behaviors (which makes the movie frustrating). While the performances and direction are strong, Barney's character just isn't appealing. Full Review »