Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 34
  2. Negative: 1 out of 34
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
    50
    The performances of Bell, Walters and Lewis make this movie worth seeing - as long as you silence your cynical side and bring some Kleenex.
  2. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    88
    Bell is utterly persuasive as the boy literally yearning to leap beyond the oppressively apparent confines of his world.
  3. Best of all, Billy (Jamie Bell) is that rarity in a film distributed by Hollywood: a real boy, confused at 11 about almost everything.
  4. 80
    A delicate balance of fantasy and realism, caricature and character study that isn't driven primarily by its plot or even the development of its protagonist.
  5. 75
    As much parable and fantasy as it is realistic.
  6. 88
    A triumph that deserves a broad audience.
  7. Trumpets the worthwhile message that ballet is just as manly and athletic as any other masculine activity - and maybe a touch more so, if you have to defy an uncomprehending community in order to pursue it.
  8. 80
    Can be as howlingly funny as it is touching.
  9. Even as the director, Stephen Daldry, places his star front and center, he doesn't know how to highlight him.
  10. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    80
    Director Stephen Daldry gets it right.
  11. 80
    You'll feel moved and uplifted after watching this well-written, funny movie.
  12. 70
    Good, colorful fun, and by virtue of its emphasis on escape through individual initiative rather than class solidarity, more likely to succeed with American audience.s
  13. In its determination to overdo sure-fire material, Billy Elliot becomes as impossible to wholeheartedly embrace as it is to completely reject.
  14. 75
    Compared to manipulative tearjerkers like "Pay It Forward" or "Men of Honor," Billy Elliot is a model of restraint, one that earns its warmth the hard way -- by making us care about the people who are going through familiar steps.
  15. 80
    This is such seductive entertainment that you might as well stop grousing and give in.
  16. It's not just a movie about an underdog who fights the odds, it's about following one's heart -- despite the obstacles.
  17. An uplifting, crowd-pleasing film in the tradition of "The Full Monty" that could easily win Oscar nominations for both its 11-year-old star, Jamie Bell, and first-time director, Stephen Daldry.
  18. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    90
    This delightful film, with its surprising depth charges of emotion, has the feel of a movie that's going to lodge itself in the public's affections for a long time to come.
  19. One of those movies where it's impossible not to find yourself cheering for the scruffy underdog hero.
  20. 91
    An exquisite, ecstatic film, crude in its characterizations and plotting, yes, but extraordinary in its capacity for elation and its hard-earned sentimentality.
  21. 90
    Bell explodes onscreen in a performance that cuts to the heart without sham tearjerking. Look for Billy to blast off.
  22. A surprisingly wise and funny meditation on the nature of what it truly means to be a man.
  23. People who see it may feel like dancing out of the theater afterward. Go for it.
  24. An adrenaline-pumping, post-musical musical.
  25. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    60
    There's too much miserable reality and not a lot of transcendent dance, and the director, Stephen Daldry, doesn't cover the action from enough angles.
  26. Anchors its melodramatic formula in tough, heartfelt realism.
  27. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    50
    The better class of moviegoers will love Billy Elliot. And I loved hating it.
  28. 70
    It's the triumph of the human spirit in its never-ending quest to be an original no matter what the establishment says.
  29. 80
    An exhilarating, funny and deeply sad story of growing pains that works on two levels; it's a feel-good story that quietly undermines the notion of gain without loss.
  30. 88
    You'd be hard-pressed to find a purer expression of rapture in a film this year than the one that opens Billy Elliot.
  31. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    90
    Strikes a delicate balance of comedy and pathos with an uplifting final act that delivers a resoundingly satisfying emotional payoff.
  32. 80
    By setting this intimate conflict against a wider social drama, Daldry makes his portrait of a dancer all the more compelling.
  33. There's actually a lot going on in this little movie, and first-time feature director Stephen Daldry, turning his talents from the theater, handles all of it deftly.
  34. It orders you to love it. It demands love, which is the best way not to get it.
User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 87 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 23
  2. Negative: 3 out of 23
  1. Feb 8, 2012
    9
    Fantastically acted, wonderfully entertaining, funny and just sad enough to make it heartwarming enough to make it one of my favorite movies.Fantastically acted, wonderfully entertaining, funny and just sad enough to make it heartwarming enough to make it one of my favorite movies. I give this movie a great 92%. Full Review »
  2. DavidH.
    Jul 23, 2006
    4
    Compelling and funny at sporadic intervals. Otherwise pretty by-the-numbers. Would have given this three or four points if not for Jamie Compelling and funny at sporadic intervals. Otherwise pretty by-the-numbers. Would have given this three or four points if not for Jamie Bell's performance. I got the impression that the film got away with its maudlin sentimentality, cynically constructed melodrama and banal use of montage to the soundtrack of played-to-death British rock "anthems" on the back of it being set in County Durham where of course people talk and act so differently. As a resident of the area myself and having been born in the town that this film was set, I resent that the makers of this film made no attempt to give audiences from elsewhere any idea of what it feels like to live here. Full Review »
  3. Apr 20, 2015
    8
    Beautiful, uplifting, warm, emotive. Many positive adjectives for a film that is aging just right. The story is compelling and different fromBeautiful, uplifting, warm, emotive. Many positive adjectives for a film that is aging just right. The story is compelling and different from what we are used to. Of course the big star and what makes the film a total winner is the child actor (and adult actor nowadays, not with that much shine compared to this role in his younger years). Impressive acting by him, especially the dancing scenes. The supporting cast could have been better, although his teacher is a great character and the actress too. Great soundtrack too. Full Review »