Burn After Reading

User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 334 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 59 out of 334
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  1. Aug 27, 2014
    8
    Don't look over this one, it's actually the Coens Brothers strongest comedy to date. Burn After Reading is quick-witted and smart. You'll have as much fun as Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand and George Clooney are having.
  2. Jul 26, 2014
    8
    I am usually not a huge fan of the Coen Brothers, but this one was really good. First off, the comedy is on point as this one, in particular Brad Pitt's character, is entirely hilarious. Typically, I do not love their brand of comedy, as I thought Raising Arizona and O, Brother Where Art Thou were ok to pretty good films, but not very funny and I did not enjoy The Big Lebowski. However,I am usually not a huge fan of the Coen Brothers, but this one was really good. First off, the comedy is on point as this one, in particular Brad Pitt's character, is entirely hilarious. Typically, I do not love their brand of comedy, as I thought Raising Arizona and O, Brother Where Art Thou were ok to pretty good films, but not very funny and I did not enjoy The Big Lebowski. However, this one is totally different and takes the best of their past films (in particular, this one feels similar to Fargo, though funnier) and puts it together with some great laughs. As is typical, the writing is great and the direction here is very good. the acting is also good, especially from Pitt, Frances McDormand, and George Clooney. Malkovich and Tilda Swinton are also solid. In addition, the plot is really fun. It is crazy and hectic, but is a ton of fun to watch unfold and really makes for an enjoyable viewing experience. Overall, this one may not be the Coen Brothers' most acclaimed films, but it is certainly a very good film with a ton of laughs and is a worthy entry into their filmography. Expand
  3. Apr 24, 2015
    8
    Burn After Reading is another great Cohen brothers movie. It has a slow burn feel to it, with a lot of the fun coming in after repeat viewings. The devil is in the small random details that truly bring on the chuckles. George Clooney's obsession with peoples wood flooring, the way that Mr. Crapokin is always referred to as Mr. Crapkin or the repeated use of the words Tuckman-MarshBurn After Reading is another great Cohen brothers movie. It has a slow burn feel to it, with a lot of the fun coming in after repeat viewings. The devil is in the small random details that truly bring on the chuckles. George Clooney's obsession with peoples wood flooring, the way that Mr. Crapokin is always referred to as Mr. Crapkin or the repeated use of the words Tuckman-Marsh certainly stick in the mind. Burn After Reading is just great stuff all round. Expand
  4. Feb 4, 2013
    10
    It's deadpan comedy at its best, and who better to deliver it than Joel and Ethan Cohen, along with Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Frances McDormand and the fantastic John Malkovich.
    When a disc containing some of the CIAs most revealing secrets goes missing, it ends up in the gym of the most bumbling, simple minded individuals, who attempt blackmail but get in too far over their heads.
    Its
    It's deadpan comedy at its best, and who better to deliver it than Joel and Ethan Cohen, along with Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Frances McDormand and the fantastic John Malkovich.
    When a disc containing some of the CIAs most revealing secrets goes missing, it ends up in the gym of the most bumbling, simple minded individuals, who attempt blackmail but get in too far over their heads.
    Its an approach at showing just how overreacting individuals can be, but also just how bland or too seriously many Hollywood movies take themselves surrounding this incident, basically a parody.
    Its a very well written dark comedy with brilliant performances, particularly Brad Pitt as an extremely camp gym worker, and retied CIA analyst John Malkovich.
    It has this large ensemble cast that go to extreme length to mock and amaze through sheer stupidity, all for our amusement, and they certainly do not fail.
    Expand
  5. Sep 11, 2012
    9
    Again a masterpiece by the Coen brothers. More bizarre than ever before and starring fantastic actors (every single one of them plays great!) and has a brilliant screenplay. A comedy film like it was meant to be. Everything's really good here, except some over-acting by McDormand and Pitt here and there.
  6. Dec 31, 2013
    7
    Burn after reading blazes....
    The plot is crafted with immense precision surrounded by amusing characters and incredible acting performances, a great film from the Cohen brothers.
  7. Aug 24, 2010
    6
    Man loses job at the CIA, writes memoirs, wife is having an affair then wants a divorce, couple of dimwits find the memoirs on a disc, try to sell it to the Russians as Top Secret intelligence.
    Coen brothers do farce. Cast are fine & there are some clever bits in it but took a while to get going.
    Ending does seem a bit rushed too.
  8. chw
    Jul 18, 2014
    6
    Burn After Reading was disappointing because it's a film by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, and every film of theirs was good, but this one was just weird and I would say it ended too quickly.
  9. Feb 7, 2012
    5
    Il était presque difficile de croire que les frères Coen nous livre une comédie après le sublime No Country For Old Men. Encore plus étonnant, que ce nouveau film n'ait pas le caractère mordant propre aux réalisateurs. Enfin, si... si l'on décortique à fond cetteIl était presque difficile de croire que les frères Coen nous livre une comédie après le sublime No Country For Old Men. Encore plus étonnant, que ce nouveau film n'ait pas le caractère mordant propre aux réalisateurs. Enfin, si... si l'on décortique à fond cette comédie. Mais il faut bien l'avouer : ce qui ne sont pas habitués à ce genre d'univers ne peuvent pas entièrement accrocher à ce genre d'humour, prenant l'ensemble pour un simple film quelque peu monotone. Mais il faut bien reconnaître que la plupart des quiproquos se montrent jouissifs et que les comédiens se laissent aller (Brad Pitt, exceptionnel!). Bref, une sympathique farce noir qui manque tout de même de mordant. Expand
  10. Jul 23, 2014
    8
    Burn After Reading is one of the Coen Brothers' most underrated work, who better to gives us a great deadpan/dark comedy than the Coens. The film has very funny jokes in a very specific way. The Cast Is Just Great
  11. Jul 28, 2013
    4
    you know how when a normal movie ends and you're like "ok, that was ok" while nodding your head.
    and when a great movie ends you're like HOLY waw, that was fantastic
    but when burn after reading ends, i'm like "WHAT, THAT'S IT 1:35 MINUTES, did i download the full movie or something went wrong?" so yeah 1 hour 35 minutes are too short to figure out these 5 characters, and yeah the
    you know how when a normal movie ends and you're like "ok, that was ok" while nodding your head.
    and when a great movie ends you're like HOLY waw, that was fantastic
    but when burn after reading ends, i'm like "WHAT, THAT'S IT 1:35 MINUTES, did i download the full movie or something went wrong?"
    so yeah 1 hour 35 minutes are too short to figure out these 5 characters, and yeah the performances were great,
    but one does not simply enjoy an unfinished movie with terrible ending.
    Expand
  12. Feb 7, 2013
    6
    Right up until the end I wasn't exactly sure what I was looking at. Burn After Readinge alternated between being a drama, a comedy and a spy-thriller. It started out as an incoherent mess and if it wasn't for the closing narrative it would have ended us as such. Still, inbetween it gave quite a few good moments as it tried to portray an "every day" account of people's lives becomingRight up until the end I wasn't exactly sure what I was looking at. Burn After Readinge alternated between being a drama, a comedy and a spy-thriller. It started out as an incoherent mess and if it wasn't for the closing narrative it would have ended us as such. Still, inbetween it gave quite a few good moments as it tried to portray an "every day" account of people's lives becoming intertwined. The characters were slightly one-dimensional but this did also allow for some eccentrics that would otherwise feel out of place. All in all an entertaining movie but don't expect anything award winning. Expand
  13. Apr 21, 2012
    9
    i thought the film was very intelligent. the jokes are very smart, in a way hard to explain. the characters feel really natural. it is a movie that shows skill on the filmmakers' behalf. if it feels naturally good, it's a good film.
  14. Aug 16, 2010
    8
    "Burn After Reading" is all about stupidity and pointlessness, as we find out near the end of the film. Its characters are all idiots and rather stupid, and their moronic ways cross each other into violence, sex, and mishappenings throughout this strange **** that the Coen brothers. I will say that it never ceases to be funny or interesting, and that Malkovich is hilarious as the CIA"Burn After Reading" is all about stupidity and pointlessness, as we find out near the end of the film. Its characters are all idiots and rather stupid, and their moronic ways cross each other into violence, sex, and mishappenings throughout this strange **** that the Coen brothers. I will say that it never ceases to be funny or interesting, and that Malkovich is hilarious as the CIA operative with a wild temper and a very dirty mouth. Expand
  15. Sep 7, 2011
    5
    This is the epitome of mediocre movies. After watching it I seriously could not decide if I liked it or not. The acting is great. It has some funny moments. There are some small twists that I seriously did not see coming. But the story is lackluster, as are most of the characters. While the plot is resolved at the end, you're kind of left feeling like the entire movie was a waste of time.
  16. ALF
    Sep 25, 2011
    0
    A film that is proof positive that if film critics like it, it has to be bad. This film goes back to the time when US comedy did not travel. Actually from brain to mouth is usually to far for most alleged comedy. Frances McDormand great actress but in this I could have quite cheerfully beaten her to death as I found her incredibly irritating all the way through. Brad Pitt. Terrible. As toA film that is proof positive that if film critics like it, it has to be bad. This film goes back to the time when US comedy did not travel. Actually from brain to mouth is usually to far for most alleged comedy. Frances McDormand great actress but in this I could have quite cheerfully beaten her to death as I found her incredibly irritating all the way through. Brad Pitt. Terrible. As to George Clooney. This actor has only made two decent films that I can recall, The Peacemaker and One Fine Day. He was so so in Three Kings, appalling in the dismal US version of Solaris and this was not much better. If you want to see a good spy spoof then watch the infinitely better "Red" with Bruce Willis. This film should be renamed Burn Before Viewing. But as I said it should be thanked for proving how abysmal the film critics are. To those that liked it, I presume they were doing another sale at Lobotomies 'R us! Expand
  17. Aug 1, 2013
    9
    Me reí mucho con esta película; una dirección magnifica de los hermanos que siempre lo dejan boqui-abierto con sus producciones. Altamente recomendada.
  18. Dec 26, 2010
    6
    I enjoyed Burn After Reading for it's unconventional plot and hilarious performance from Brad Pitt. So many stupid people played by a cast of awesomeness. But this movie was missing quite a few things. It didn't really have a great impact and I think I know why. The Coens found great success with their Best Picture winner No Country For Old Men and tried to re-create that success, and whoI enjoyed Burn After Reading for it's unconventional plot and hilarious performance from Brad Pitt. So many stupid people played by a cast of awesomeness. But this movie was missing quite a few things. It didn't really have a great impact and I think I know why. The Coens found great success with their Best Picture winner No Country For Old Men and tried to re-create that success, and who wouldn't? They created some form of success, but this movie fell short of being memorable. The performances of the stupid people in Washington felt a bit overplayed at times and some of the jokes we admit are funny, but not very. Still, Pitt's acting shines in this one, so I'll say that this movie is okay in my book. Expand
  19. Jun 10, 2012
    10
    I loved the castI loved the cast . Expand
  20. Dec 24, 2013
    8
    The Dynamics Of The Average Human Motivation Are Revealed and the construction of suburbia is the space of such motors. The social carpet unfolds black and popish resembling a report for those that watch from the sky
  21. Dec 15, 2010
    9
    I find metacritic users to be so fickle in their tastes. This movie is so enjoyable, and it has tons of repeat value. The cast is in top form, particularly Brad Pitt. So much better than the lackluster rating it's got on here.
  22. Jul 30, 2012
    8
    Not quite at the level of films like Big Lebowski in terms on Coen Brothers comedies, but still a really fun movie with some really good actors acting like true idiots and having a blast in the process. Brad Pitt is a high point, but the show stealer for me was JK Simmons as the perpetually befuddled CIA superior attempting to follow all the ridiculousness.
  23. Jul 1, 2011
    8
    Oh the Coen Brothers. They never fail to amaze me. With every single film they release they capture something that lures you into the type of film. In No Country For Old Men what the Coen Brothers captured in that film was Anton's behaviour and generated it into something only they can do. Same with Fargo but it wasn't the villain who was blessed by the Coens. It was the protagonist. InOh the Coen Brothers. They never fail to amaze me. With every single film they release they capture something that lures you into the type of film. In No Country For Old Men what the Coen Brothers captured in that film was Anton's behaviour and generated it into something only they can do. Same with Fargo but it wasn't the villain who was blessed by the Coens. It was the protagonist. In this film it's the whole entire cast. And that's why so many people don't understand this film. Most of you probably think this film is just about stupid people who do stupid things. Well you're all right about that but this film is much more than that. It's about the whole world. It's about how the whole world is going to become stupid as time goes by and how very small things nowadays can lead to ginormous catastrophes. There's always the news as an example. People going to war and killing each other. Then there's things you don't hear on the news but things you experience in every day life. Like modern high schools for example. The students are becoming dumber and dumber and deliberately not paying any attention to the teachers whatsoever just to act hard and cool in front of their mates. So where I'm coming from? So that's all I really need to explain. Now here are my opinions on the movie. It has a good and solid cast. Brad Pitt and George Clooney were amazing. The others were good too. And I also like the way this film is a Black Comedy. I love Black Comedies. The humour in them is unusual. And that's what I like about them. The story was good too but it was challenging during some parts. I don't really have any criticisms for this movie so I'm just going to give it a 8/10 for it's good humour and it's memorable characters. The bad thing is that it's a little bit too long but it doesn't over do it. I hope you liked my review! Expand
  24. May 2, 2011
    7
    Initially, you're trying to guess "What's going on here", but as the film progresses, you will start to get the point, and from that moment, you'll be smiling till the end.
  25. BM.
    Oct 5, 2008
    3
    Horrible waste of money. was mildly amusing at best. story could've been made into something neat but instead was a wash of nothing. You know those types of movies that just don't have any meaning or resolution. Boring, pointless waste of time and money. Do not see this movie.
  26. SM
    Dec 31, 2008
    9
    Unfortunately most people haven't got the point. Coen brothers and all these amazing actors got together to show us how ridiculously, not only our country, but the whole world is approaching a catastrophe. The more stupid one is, the higher the rank s/he can get in the government/intelligence. Then Idiots make policies and decisions and everyone gets screwed up. Just think about the Unfortunately most people haven't got the point. Coen brothers and all these amazing actors got together to show us how ridiculously, not only our country, but the whole world is approaching a catastrophe. The more stupid one is, the higher the rank s/he can get in the government/intelligence. Then Idiots make policies and decisions and everyone gets screwed up. Just think about the point of this movie again. Coens, Malkovich, Clooney, Pitt, Swinton, .... are all smart people and their time is very expensive, so they spend it on something that is worth watching and thinking about. Expand
  27. BrockJ.
    Oct 18, 2008
    2
    A few funny moments intertwined with a lot of cheaters. Brad Pitt was fantastic, but unfortunately the same cannot be said about this plot.
  28. PaulT
    Dec 21, 2008
    9
    I dont understand why people didnt like this. In terms of entertainment value, I thought it was way better than No Country for old men. What can I say, I Loved it.
  29. DanielaN.
    Dec 30, 2008
    1
    A few funny lines, other than that, thoughtless, pointless, the violence was senseless, the amount of cursing made it seem like the writers were in 7th grade and had just discovered the words shit and fuck. After seeing this, I spent about 40 minutes talking about how bad it was. I felt robbed of my time, and cheated. It was simply AWFUL.
  30. EoghanM.
    Oct 26, 2008
    10
    One of the best films this year and tat s saying something!
  31. StephanieE.
    Oct 3, 2008
    1
    This movie was absolutely a waste of $16. The only parts of the movie that moved that audience at all were Brad Pitt's idiotic humor and when he was shot in the face. The character Linda was a joke. Not to mention Clooney fit the role of a psycho but that's about it. Don't even get me started on the ending. They briefly explain to you who got shot and who died while This movie was absolutely a waste of $16. The only parts of the movie that moved that audience at all were Brad Pitt's idiotic humor and when he was shot in the face. The character Linda was a joke. Not to mention Clooney fit the role of a psycho but that's about it. Don't even get me started on the ending. They briefly explain to you who got shot and who died while stumbling over words. I'm sorry but I highly doubt a person in such a position (the character who fired Malcovich) would studder while speaking to his superior. This movie was absolutely horrible and I'm pissed that I wasted my money. Expand
  32. AndrewP.
    Oct 5, 2008
    9
    Expertly Crafted story, with shocking twists. The humor is great, and the Cohen brothers have done it again!
  33. ChadS.
    Sep 13, 2008
    7
    Sonny Wortzik(Al Pacino) planned a bank heist in Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon" so he could pay for his boyfriend's sex reassignment surgery. People do insane things for love. Echoes of the 1975 film can be gleamed in "Burn After Reading" when Linda Litzke(Frances McDormand) tries to unload a disc of CIA "s***" at the Russian embassy. The high cost of surgery is the root of Sonny Wortzik(Al Pacino) planned a bank heist in Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon" so he could pay for his boyfriend's sex reassignment surgery. People do insane things for love. Echoes of the 1975 film can be gleamed in "Burn After Reading" when Linda Litzke(Frances McDormand) tries to unload a disc of CIA "s***" at the Russian embassy. The high cost of surgery is the root of Linda's ersatz attempt at espionage. In stark contrast to Sonny, though, the fitness center employee is having work done on herself. Welcome to "The Me Century". "Burn After Reading" savagely attacks a certain segment of the general public and their corresponding character; those Americans who are narcissistic, lazy(Linda opts for liposuction instead of working out), therefore fat, and ill-informed. More than ever, the 21st century is a throwback to the seventies(dubbed "The Me Generation"), a period in which people were apolitical and hedonistic(Linda has one-night stands with men she found surfing the Internet.). She and Chad(Brad Pitt) solicit the Russians without an understanding about our current political climate. For the record, The Cold War ended in 1991. When Osbourne Cox(John Malkovich), late in the film, says, "You belong to a legion of morons," he's not really addressing Ted(Richard Jenkins); he's addressing the American people; the voting populace, at large. Ted doesn't belong to the "idiotocracy". Ted is a good man. What about you? Expand
  34. MikeD.
    Sep 13, 2008
    7
    The movie has a good premise, but it didn't seem to follow through on what it intended to do. The beginning is quite slow as it unfolds the characters and takes awhile to get to the meat of the plot. By then, you've already asked yourself "where is this going?" At times, it was witty and sardonic. Brad Pitt nailed the role as small-time gym trainer. He definitely highlights the The movie has a good premise, but it didn't seem to follow through on what it intended to do. The beginning is quite slow as it unfolds the characters and takes awhile to get to the meat of the plot. By then, you've already asked yourself "where is this going?" At times, it was witty and sardonic. Brad Pitt nailed the role as small-time gym trainer. He definitely highlights the movie. However, the rest of characters didn't blend well with the "dark comedy-esque." I found them to be too serious and not whimsical enough. The tone of the movie at times didn't know when to be humorous or serious. In general, it's not too bad, but not too good. The great ending was the savior of the movie. Expand
  35. MichaelS.
    Sep 15, 2008
    4
    This was a horrible mess of a movie that strained too hard to pull out any sort of comedy. Extremely dry and simplistic humor dots the film as if the actors were forced to try and make it funny. The only moments that even cracked a laugh in the whole movie theater were perhaps the least clever, calling a man a, "Jew", a Hispanic worker repeating what he's saying, and two government This was a horrible mess of a movie that strained too hard to pull out any sort of comedy. Extremely dry and simplistic humor dots the film as if the actors were forced to try and make it funny. The only moments that even cracked a laugh in the whole movie theater were perhaps the least clever, calling a man a, "Jew", a Hispanic worker repeating what he's saying, and two government officials trying to figure out whats going on, mark all three funny moments in the film. As well, the first quarter of the movie before the, "Burn After Reading" file is discovered is absolutely unneeded, it slowly, almost to the point of nauseatingly fleshes out the main characters, so much that I think I've seen soap operas wrap up character history faster. The entire movie was a failure at an attempt to entertain, but spot on when it comes to portraying how stupid the characters were, the last three minutes of the show are all you truly need to watch, as this movie is quite the head-snapper, as in I'm trying not to pass out from the sheer stupidity this film made me endure. Expand
  36. JayK
    Sep 15, 2008
    9
    Every joke hit it's mark (rare thing for a comedy), and there were lots of jokes. This is my favorite Coen movie after No Country For Old Men. Clever, well acted, achieves everything it wants. One of the few movies where so many despicable characters are so watchable. I can understand that some people are left wanting a higher purpose, but they are either missing the point or just Every joke hit it's mark (rare thing for a comedy), and there were lots of jokes. This is my favorite Coen movie after No Country For Old Men. Clever, well acted, achieves everything it wants. One of the few movies where so many despicable characters are so watchable. I can understand that some people are left wanting a higher purpose, but they are either missing the point or just need a different point. I can understand that some folks won't get it or like it, but I'm gratefully not in that camp. Great, funny movie. Expand
  37. LucaS.
    Sep 24, 2008
    3
    One of the most boring and useless film in this 2008. Stay away from it. it's a waste of money,time and patience.
  38. LinL.
    Jan 4, 2009
    2
    Despite the fantastic cast, this was extraordinarily boring and bereft of laughs. I kept waiting for it to get funny, clever, entertaining . . . never happened.
  39. jimi
    Jan 5, 2009
    9
    Confirms what we've known all along: just about everyone in Washington is a lot dumber than they think they are...if only the real ones would get the poetic justice these clowns do!
  40. CraigR.
    Mar 2, 2009
    3
    Truly dismal. A fim about nothing. It's like they got 3/4 of the way through and gave up any hopes of a story.
  41. MikeH
    Aug 29, 2009
    0
    people giving "burn after reading" any score above zero are reading too much into the movie. you could give them a blank piece of paper and it would keep them entertained for hours, as they would find some 'hidden meaning' within it. they probably saw movie critics' ratings for "no country for old men" and thought that by giving a high rating to the coen brothers' next people giving "burn after reading" any score above zero are reading too much into the movie. you could give them a blank piece of paper and it would keep them entertained for hours, as they would find some 'hidden meaning' within it. they probably saw movie critics' ratings for "no country for old men" and thought that by giving a high rating to the coen brothers' next nonsensical movie they would appear 'smart' in movie critics' eyes. i watched this entire movie, constantly expecting something interesting to happen. it didn't. dreadful! Expand
  42. AlanG
    Aug 4, 2009
    9
    Absolutely hysterical. Saw it on the movie channel. I'd never even heard of the movie before. My wife and I were howling throughout the movie. The cast was superb. Frances McDormand plays screwball better than anyone. Malkovich, Clooney, Pitt and the rest of the cast hit their marks ever time.Satire, black humour, screwball comedy. The writing was crisp and very very funny. Though my Absolutely hysterical. Saw it on the movie channel. I'd never even heard of the movie before. My wife and I were howling throughout the movie. The cast was superb. Frances McDormand plays screwball better than anyone. Malkovich, Clooney, Pitt and the rest of the cast hit their marks ever time.Satire, black humour, screwball comedy. The writing was crisp and very very funny. Though my wife disagrees, I liked it better than Fargo. Expand
  43. AnonymousMC
    Nov 10, 2008
    0
    This script should've been burnt after reading. I've never been this close to leaving the cinemas. I didn't hear one good word about it from other people who were watching the movie. During the break I couldn't help but speaking out loud what kind of $#!% I thought it was, and I didn't get else but confirmation from other people. I came here to expect that othersThis script should've been burnt after reading. I've never been this close to leaving the cinemas. I didn't hear one good word about it from other people who were watching the movie. During the break I couldn't help but speaking out loud what kind of $#!% I thought it was, and I didn't get else but confirmation from other people. I came here to expect that others somewhat shared the same opinion and I'm very surprised that it's currently rated at 6.3 / 6.5. I guess I'm more of an all rounder when it comes to watching movies. I think this movie only appeals to a specific group (hence the great differences in user ratings). I didn't see the trailer before I watched the movie, but upon watching it now I would think its a fair movie. I think the trailer is pretty misleading. Better wait for 007. Even if you have to wait 2 weeks before you can make a reservation. Expand
  44. BillyP.
    Oct 1, 2008
    7
    Entertaining... but being a Coens borthers movie you expect to be blown away. This time they fall short.
  45. MarkB.
    Oct 16, 2008
    4
    Comparing and contrasting the careers of the last two Lifetime Achievement--er, Best Director Oscar winners: Martin Scorsese's lifetime output represents the work of someone who has seen a lot of movies and lived a lot of life. The Coen Brothers' lifetime output represents that of someone who has seen a lot of movies. Oh, don't get me wrong--their studiously composed Comparing and contrasting the careers of the last two Lifetime Achievement--er, Best Director Oscar winners: Martin Scorsese's lifetime output represents the work of someone who has seen a lot of movies and lived a lot of life. The Coen Brothers' lifetime output represents that of someone who has seen a lot of movies. Oh, don't get me wrong--their studiously composed clones-with-attitude of yesteryear's finest ,such as the unjustly underrated retro-noir The Man Who Wasn't There, can certainly yield many of their own rewards (and it should be no surprise whatsoever that the biggest laughs in their remake of The Ladykillers were lifted directly from the 1955 Alec Guinness original), but too much of their recent work--No Country For Old Men being an atypical blip on the radar, and therefore predictably the big winner of the Academy Award jackpot--emerges as heartless, soulless, and, especially given how often the word "quirky" is applied to these guys, oddly mechanical. Earlier comedies such as Raising Arizona and Fargo partially countermanded this with such a palpable underlying core of sweetness, especially in thdeir depictions of the central characters' marriages, that any fleeting suspicion that Joel and Ethan were treating their principals with the slightest whiff of condescension could be easily and happily dismissed. Not so with their espionage farce Burn After Reading, a farce as irriatingly tangled as a store selling Christmas tree lights in the aftermath of a firebombing and as distastefully acrid as a carton of milk left sitting on the radiator since Saddam shuffled off this mortal coil. If I wanted to watch one-joke comedies about nothing more than how selfish and stupid people are (with no compensating or justifying point of view as can at least be found in Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or Altman's The Player), I'd sit at home with reruns of Married...With Children and America's Funniest Home Videos; at least those offerings wouldn't profoundly depress me with all-dressed-up-and-nowhere-to-go comic turns by a very lively Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, J.K. Simmons and Mrs. Coen herself. The rubber-faced Frances McDormand, whose brilliant but compassionate cop Marge Gunderson from Fargo will live past all vocal comparisons to a certain notorious political figure to remain one of ther most endearing movie characters in history, is especially poorly used as a moronic and (deservedly) unlucky-in-love health club employee. Admittedly, the fact that the Coens assembled such an elaborate , seemingly unending (though it's only slightly over 90 minutes) paean to utter obtuseness (with the one somewhat likable and reasonably intelligent character meeting a gory, disgusting fate) IS superficially impressive in the way that someone constructing a model of the Sistine Chapel entirely out of cheese might be, but in both instances the novelty wears off VERY quickly and the results turn putrid even more rapidly. Or, as Juno's dad asks at picture's end, what have we learned? Not a damned thing. Oh, brother, you said it. Expand
  46. WhitfordSt.H.
    Dec 27, 2008
    2
    This is one of the lowlights in the Coen canon; not funny (and desperately trying to be), not suspensful in any measure and laborious to endure. A waste of a first class cast and an uncharacteristic misfire in every respect.
  47. JPS.
    Oct 6, 2008
    7
    Curious plot drew me deeper and deeper into the humor of the movie. Characters seemed shallow at first, but in the end viewers have no doubt that it is written and directed by the Cohen Bothers.
  48. BobW
    Oct 9, 2008
    6
    Lots of F words and a couple of surprisingly jarring violent scenes seemed out of synch with the humor and caper qualities of the film. A creative plot but not a movie I would recommend.
  49. JonB.
    Sep 12, 2008
    8
    The movie is comprised of plot twists and dark humor. I would recommend this movie to anyone who liked Fargo and The Big Lebowski. I thought it was a good movie on the first watching, but it may get even better with subsequent viewings.
  50. JudyT.
    Sep 13, 2008
    9
    Funniest movie I've seen in a long, long, time. I am not a Coen Brothers fan but I was pleasantly surprised by the cleverness of this movie. A must see.
  51. JosephA.
    Sep 13, 2008
    8
    Hysterical. Can be a bit hard to follow at times but the characters are strong and the comedy is quick. Loved it.
  52. TylerG.
    Sep 14, 2008
    9
    Not as good as No Countr, but still one of the best films of 08'. Perfect mix of drama and comedy. Only complaint is the beginning is a little weak but ultimately it adds up to the middle and end which is grade A material. Not worthy of Best Picture but still a must see.
  53. BillyS.
    Sep 14, 2008
    7
    What Burn After Reading may lack in story and structure, it makes up for in (as all Coen movies do) great quirky characters, and lots of them. It may not be the Oscar juggernaut that we'd expect from the brilliant Coen brothers, but what a joy it is to watch their menagerie of off the wall people who inhabit this movie! Brad Pitt's Chad Feldheimer is a classic that could grab What Burn After Reading may lack in story and structure, it makes up for in (as all Coen movies do) great quirky characters, and lots of them. It may not be the Oscar juggernaut that we'd expect from the brilliant Coen brothers, but what a joy it is to watch their menagerie of off the wall people who inhabit this movie! Brad Pitt's Chad Feldheimer is a classic that could grab the Acedemy's attention and JK Simmons is deadpan hilarious! Expand
  54. BrandonS.
    Sep 15, 2008
    0
    No Country made me want to kill the Coen brothers. Burn After Reading makes me want to kill them, revive them, and kill them again. I'm done with these idiots.
  55. JamesB.
    Sep 19, 2008
    6
    Oh boy. Hmm,...let's see now, I didn't necessarily "dislike" this typically polarizing of a Coen Brothers film, but I hardly "loved" it as well. Like their far superior "No Country For Old Men", this new film is rife with pessimism, misanthropy and palpable mean-spiritedness (despite it being an alleged "comedy"), but unlike "NCFOM", it hasn't a really compelling story (or Oh boy. Hmm,...let's see now, I didn't necessarily "dislike" this typically polarizing of a Coen Brothers film, but I hardly "loved" it as well. Like their far superior "No Country For Old Men", this new film is rife with pessimism, misanthropy and palpable mean-spiritedness (despite it being an alleged "comedy"), but unlike "NCFOM", it hasn't a really compelling story (or rather a series of untypically cinematic "things" happening against formula) nor any interesting characters to "care about" (we're passively along for the "let's mock these morons" ride). It's chock full of unmitigated idiots and hapless dolts (Malkovich notwithstanding, despite his surface perceptions of idiocy all about him) running around oblivious of the likely consequences of their respective actions and the ramifications of other people's reactions. This movie and its mindbogglingly inept array of twits represent a contemporary microcosm of the idiocy that continues to stymie (for the most part) the actual (i.e., the "mental/psychological progress", and not the more popular and assumed "technological sense") progress of the human race. This is what the Coen Brothers are lamenting and responding to. To a certain extent, I definitely sympathise with them and their frustration with contemporary culture, but it's too bad they couldn't express it more entertainingly. J.K.Simmons' final lines of dialogue perfectly sum up the sad situation afflicting early 21st century humanity and the laisse faire attitude of "doing our own thing" unbeknownst to everyone else and the potential adverse consequences therein. How can anyone learn anything from populated events affecting you indirectly and beyond your control, even if siad events are perpetrated by idiots? God, help us all!....oh yeah, that's right too. Expand
  56. PeterK.
    Sep 28, 2008
    9
    Darkly funny. One of the best things that the Cohens have done since Raising Arizona.
  57. ChristianW.
    Sep 30, 2008
    8
    even funnier than Big Lebowski, i guffawed my way through it. Pitt is hilarious, so is Malkovich. McDormand and Clooney are also pretty good. Those who prefer the Coen's funnier stuff over their thrillers will absolutely lap this one up. Watch for the visible boom, apparently that's intentional.
  58. EmmaS.
    Jan 10, 2009
    9
    Haha are you kidding me that movie was hilarious!
  59. JohnH
    Jan 1, 2009
    4
    Starts off ok but just gets stupid. I can't recommend this one.
  60. MattA
    Jan 18, 2009
    7
    Deliciously dark, and entertaining. Great performances by all of the leads and supporting characters. Burn After Reading, is not your typical movie. As complex as the story may seem, it really... really isn't. The only thing that makes it complicated is the fact that a bunch of egomaniac idiots can't seem to grasp the big picture. The only one who seems to be level headed is the Deliciously dark, and entertaining. Great performances by all of the leads and supporting characters. Burn After Reading, is not your typical movie. As complex as the story may seem, it really... really isn't. The only thing that makes it complicated is the fact that a bunch of egomaniac idiots can't seem to grasp the big picture. The only one who seems to be level headed is the chief of the CIA. The movie is funny, not on the rolling on the floor kind of way, but in the "oh my god, what the hell were they thinking. They're idiots" sort of way. I can easily see how this is not right for everyone. But to me, i enjoyed myself. Expand
  61. SteveP
    Jan 2, 2009
    8
    I heard one reviewer say that this film is a
  62. christianp.
    Jan 2, 2009
    10
    I'm completely baffled at some of the comments here. One person who gave this movie a score of THREE out of TEN (!?!?!?!) wrote, "I love Coen Brothers movies. This one is a dud...Weird people acting stupid and killing each other...Very, very disappointed." I'm sorry, but if you truly love the films of the Coen brothers, you'd come to expect (and look forward to) "Weird I'm completely baffled at some of the comments here. One person who gave this movie a score of THREE out of TEN (!?!?!?!) wrote, "I love Coen Brothers movies. This one is a dud...Weird people acting stupid and killing each other...Very, very disappointed." I'm sorry, but if you truly love the films of the Coen brothers, you'd come to expect (and look forward to) "Weird people acting stupid and killing each other." Am I wrong?! This film was funny, clever, well written, dark, startling, quirky, odd, and everything else we expect from these filmmakers. Why isn't this rated much much higher?!?!!? Expand
  63. KimA
    Jan 22, 2009
    3
    This movie was a big disappointment. If it had not been for Brad Pitt the movie would have been a total bomb. He was the only funny part of the movie. Figured from the previews and the cast it would be great, but no. A real disappointment!
  64. kendraS
    Jan 27, 2009
    3
    At the end it left me puzzled...what just happened?
  65. MajorM.
    Jan 3, 2009
    7
    It is a overall good film with 3 roles that really make the film. Brad Pitt,George Clooney,John Malkovich are the 3 roles that make this movie good. you really forget how good Pitt is until you watch his movies. it was good and worth the time to watch.
  66. Mr.L.
    Jan 9, 2009
    9
    This movie is hilarious. If you enjoyed The Big Lebowski, Raising Arizona and Fargo, you will love this movie. As a sidebar... although I didn't keep count, I'm pretty sure John Malkovich's character says "fuck" more times than any character in Hollywood history.
  67. TroelsS.
    Feb 8, 2009
    9
    I do not understand how soe people can get completely lost in this story. It's quite simple actually, but in a complicated way. It's an intriguing movie about how the smallest things can affect some of the largest things. It's crazy, it's hectic, it's insane and it's genius! Once again the Coen brothers manage to make a movie, where you have to sit for a I do not understand how soe people can get completely lost in this story. It's quite simple actually, but in a complicated way. It's an intriguing movie about how the smallest things can affect some of the largest things. It's crazy, it's hectic, it's insane and it's genius! Once again the Coen brothers manage to make a movie, where you have to sit for a while and just stare. Brilliant! Expand
  68. FranciscoP.
    Mar 4, 2009
    7
    The Coen's usually characterize their films using dramatic breakups to their stories. In this film that breakup is more than ever unexpected: simple characters transforming into witnesses of their own mistakes... the story becomes more dense nevertheless always more atractive. In this zoo of characters, some reality between too much freakness may be necessary... That's an issue The Coen's usually characterize their films using dramatic breakups to their stories. In this film that breakup is more than ever unexpected: simple characters transforming into witnesses of their own mistakes... the story becomes more dense nevertheless always more atractive. In this zoo of characters, some reality between too much freakness may be necessary... That's an issue that the Coen's definetely got to improve in ther stories... obviously instead of No country for old man. Expand
  69. ChristianV
    May 8, 2009
    10
    Love it! Gets funnier with each viewing!
  70. JonasN.
    Nov 13, 2008
    8
    I laughed throughout the last 30 minutes of this film. The plot, or lack of same, was hilarious.
  71. [Anonymous]
    Oct 12, 2008
    9
    One of the funniest films I've ever seen, and one of the best of the year.
  72. CodyF.
    Oct 14, 2008
    9
    The Coen brothers have lived up to their reputation again. A phenomenally dry humor that kept me laughing from start to finish. The Malcovich/Clooney/Pitt combination worked amazingly and you could tell there was lots of chemistry on the set. But the best part of the movie was the score. The music kept you "on edge" in a comedy and the order of events was spectacular.
  73. GinaO.
    Oct 18, 2008
    8
    Creative, idiotic and funny, I recommend it. I loved the characters and the plot. It
  74. CraigS.
    Oct 19, 2008
    2
    Its a horrible feeling to be embarrassed for your heroes, but after watching this absolute mess, it looks like 'No Country For Old Men' was just a fluke show of their old form in the career nose-dive of the Coen brothers, one good film out of their last four is not a good sign. They really need to dump Clooney as soon as possible and get some of the old crowd (Steve Buscemi, Its a horrible feeling to be embarrassed for your heroes, but after watching this absolute mess, it looks like 'No Country For Old Men' was just a fluke show of their old form in the career nose-dive of the Coen brothers, one good film out of their last four is not a good sign. They really need to dump Clooney as soon as possible and get some of the old crowd (Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, John Goodman..) back before mainstream Hollywood strips all that was special from their films permanently. Credit to John Malkovich though for putting in the effort and making the best of a bad situation.. Expand
  75. AlexO
    Dec 21, 2008
    1
    This Movie was god awful. The BIG Liebowski was the Cohen brothers last good movie. I will never pay to watch another of their films. The Characters were cartoon parodies of humanity. The level of stupidity and ignorance was astounding and the point of this film, why it exists at all remains a mystery. After watching this movie I felt empty and terrible. Evil Ugly stupid film.
  76. JimL.
    Dec 23, 2008
    9
    Very enjoyable, if you like the Coen brothers' zany view of reality, and their dark sense of humor.
  77. LuisV
    Dec 28, 2008
    3
    Some how directors believe that if they do some good movie what follows will also be good just like that, this movie seams to be the case.
  78. KathyS.
    Dec 30, 2008
    4
    Ho hum. The best part was seeing Brad Pitt smacked in the face.
  79. MikeB.
    Oct 24, 2008
    8
    The Coens often defy traditional story structure, such as in The Big Lebowski, where the main character undergoes no change. In this movie, nothing happens, and the traditional story arch (conflict, rising action, climax, resolution) is essentially thrown out. Personally, that makes me think that this film is brilliant, but I can understand why others who are looking for a more The Coens often defy traditional story structure, such as in The Big Lebowski, where the main character undergoes no change. In this movie, nothing happens, and the traditional story arch (conflict, rising action, climax, resolution) is essentially thrown out. Personally, that makes me think that this film is brilliant, but I can understand why others who are looking for a more traditional format (given the star appeal of the movie, quite a lot of folks) are disappointed. Expand
  80. AnonymousMC
    Oct 26, 2008
    8
    I feel this movie clicked for some and clanged for others, in a half-and-half arrangement. I was one of the ones whom it did click for. I liked it alot, because it was very off-beat, disastrous, and I found myself laughing to myself the whole way through, just because I thought the complete lack of synchronicity between the characters, and their inability to actually see the big picture,I feel this movie clicked for some and clanged for others, in a half-and-half arrangement. I was one of the ones whom it did click for. I liked it alot, because it was very off-beat, disastrous, and I found myself laughing to myself the whole way through, just because I thought the complete lack of synchronicity between the characters, and their inability to actually see the big picture, was very humourous. Subtlety isn't exactly this film's forte in this regard, but it still works at getting people laughing. I especially thought the abrupt ending worked as well; it reaffirmed that 'Burn After Reading' is just completely ludicrous, no-harm fun. Expand
  81. MartinS.
    Oct 26, 2008
    9
    Easily the funiest movie I've seen all year.
  82. JohnO.
    Oct 4, 2008
    0
    Do you have a rating lower than 0 - if not I'll be generous and give it a well deserved 0 . I loved the Robert L. comment - all copies of the film should have been burned before showing.
  83. MirandaS.
    Oct 4, 2008
    0
    I have never before in my life walked out of a movie in a movie theater. But I lasted about 1 hour before I had to leave the theater before shooting myself. I feel that the Cohn Brothers owe me my money back!!!
  84. Aaron
    Oct 8, 2008
    10
    Wickedly dark humor with the Coen Brothers sick sense of humor. Outstanding cast doing satire. If you are looking for realism don't bother. But the end of the movie makes a farce of everything we know is screwed up. What a refreshing change.
  85. LaurenE.
    Sep 12, 2008
    0
    Stupid movie, about stupid people.
  86. StewartQ.
    Sep 12, 2008
    5
    It's okay to admit that the Coen Brothers missed the mark on this one. Really, no need to pretend that the ending was not a baffling disappointment with more loose ends than a grass skirt. Sure, Brad Pitt was mildly funny but the film is full of gratuitous suspense and self absorbed intricacies that ultimately lead nowhere. Whether it is intended as a black comedy, a satirical farce It's okay to admit that the Coen Brothers missed the mark on this one. Really, no need to pretend that the ending was not a baffling disappointment with more loose ends than a grass skirt. Sure, Brad Pitt was mildly funny but the film is full of gratuitous suspense and self absorbed intricacies that ultimately lead nowhere. Whether it is intended as a black comedy, a satirical farce or an espionage goof, it is a hollow effort all around. ;-) Expand
  87. GlenM.
    Sep 12, 2008
    9
    This movie is ridiculously hilarious. The Coen brothers continue to crank out ballsy movie's that just flat out do not appeal to the general public...and i feel that they get some sort of satisfaction out of it.
  88. MarkR.
    Sep 13, 2008
    9
    It's an 97 minute Seinfeld episode without Seinfeld, but I mean that in a good way. Brad Pitt takes over for Kramer, Malkovich is Neuman, McDormand is Elaine and the film is essentially about nothing in particular. It never taking itself too seriously, and weaves many smooth twists and turns throughout the story. It is a story of greedy, idiotic, selfish and downright mean people It's an 97 minute Seinfeld episode without Seinfeld, but I mean that in a good way. Brad Pitt takes over for Kramer, Malkovich is Neuman, McDormand is Elaine and the film is essentially about nothing in particular. It never taking itself too seriously, and weaves many smooth twists and turns throughout the story. It is a story of greedy, idiotic, selfish and downright mean people that I thoroughly enjoyed. If I watch it again, I'm sure I'll laugh out loud at the same spots and have a smile on my face as the lights come on. Go see it, but don't take it too seriously either. Expand
  89. DaniilK.
    Sep 13, 2008
    10
    Absolutely Hysterical!!! The chaos of life doesn't end, and the government can't do anything right.
  90. GeorgeN.
    Sep 13, 2008
    9
    I just got back and have to say I enjoyed it. This movie was not only hilarious but complex enough intrigue me The Coen's really know how to make a great movie!
  91. LarryK.
    Sep 13, 2008
    4
    Ah, yes. Yet again the trailers lure the flies to the spider's web. The stellar cast who nailed their roles could not make up for spotty entertaining dialogue and minimal laugh-out-loud scenes. It was boring and quite forgettable for the most part. Brad Pitt was the highlight of the film. His portrayal of a gym rat was hilariously entertaining. His exit came too soon in my opinion. Ah, yes. Yet again the trailers lure the flies to the spider's web. The stellar cast who nailed their roles could not make up for spotty entertaining dialogue and minimal laugh-out-loud scenes. It was boring and quite forgettable for the most part. Brad Pitt was the highlight of the film. His portrayal of a gym rat was hilariously entertaining. His exit came too soon in my opinion. I'll remember "Fargo" and "No Country for Old Men." This film I've already forgotten. Expand
  92. BernieB.
    Sep 14, 2008
    2
    A big disappointment. Save your money.
  93. KC.
    Sep 15, 2008
    8
    Very enjoyable and funny movie; dark...but funny (typical Coen brothers slant and violence). If you're a fan of the Coens and their films such as Fargo, then you will like this; if not, then you will most likely hate this (like my wife did). I thoroughly enjoyed watching all of the actors and how they were stretched to act outside of their normal roles. Pitt was amazingly funny, Very enjoyable and funny movie; dark...but funny (typical Coen brothers slant and violence). If you're a fan of the Coens and their films such as Fargo, then you will like this; if not, then you will most likely hate this (like my wife did). I thoroughly enjoyed watching all of the actors and how they were stretched to act outside of their normal roles. Pitt was amazingly funny, Malkovich was spot on and funny in his own serious way, and McDormand stole the whole movie for me...she was the more grounded character who this whole twisted plot revolves around. One of the best films I've seen this year. Great fun. Expand
  94. DoomedtoFail
    Sep 15, 2008
    0
    This has to be one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life. Hollywood's version of entertainment has left me in the past and the whole movie tries to sell on star power. But it is garbage. Brad Pitt plays a moron & George Clooney plays a "player" extreme (what he thinks he is). The movie has ZERO likable characters and nothing positive to offer. If this is the future of This has to be one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life. Hollywood's version of entertainment has left me in the past and the whole movie tries to sell on star power. But it is garbage. Brad Pitt plays a moron & George Clooney plays a "player" extreme (what he thinks he is). The movie has ZERO likable characters and nothing positive to offer. If this is the future of entertainment - we are in serious trouble! Expand
  95. Johns
    Sep 15, 2008
    4
    Really average movie. Laughed once. The cast was just not funny. Gave NCFOM a 10, hope brothers do better next time.
  96. JA.
    Sep 16, 2008
    3
    Don't waste your money. This was a disappointment, and the only reason it got such great reviews was because of the hype and directors. I didn't go in with high expectations, which is a good thing because even those weren't met.
  97. MariosK.
    Sep 16, 2008
    4
    This was a farce of everything which wasn't that interesting. the first part of the movie was bland and dry. the first bit of humor was when Brad pitt had his first lines (He was the only reason i gave this score a 4 instead of a 2). the story was very random. I expected more from a CLooney /Pitt movie.
  98. AlanL.
    Sep 19, 2008
    8
    This is a movie of sympathetic characters with unsympathetic goals. I wanted to save all of them from themselves and each other. Politically, it underscored the conservative point that the world is maybe unchangingly mean because people are stupid and greedy and the liberal point that maybe you have to apply thought and compassion because the alternative is unthinkable. Except for the This is a movie of sympathetic characters with unsympathetic goals. I wanted to save all of them from themselves and each other. Politically, it underscored the conservative point that the world is maybe unchangingly mean because people are stupid and greedy and the liberal point that maybe you have to apply thought and compassion because the alternative is unthinkable. Except for the Coens. As for humor, it made me laugh maybe five times in the theater but made me laugh maybe twenty or so in the following week. It's like Dr. Strangelove, really. Expand
  99. CD
    Sep 21, 2008
    4
    Not the best film of all time for sure...there was a lot of unnecessary drama crap and cold war puns that just flat out failed. Most of the film felt like boring office work, some of the film felt like those akward silences that you hate, and the small rest of it was funny. The only parts of this film that worked was Brad Pitt and Clooney. Everything else sucked.
Metascore
63

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 37
  2. Negative: 1 out of 37
  1. Joel and Ethan Coen clearly are in a prankish mood, knocking out a minor piece of silliness with all the trappings of an A-list studio movie.
  2. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    50
    Nothing about the project's execution inspires the feeling that this was ever intended as anything more than a lark, which would be fine if it were a good one. As it is, audience teeth-grinding sets in early and never lets up.
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    30
    Either the Coens failed, or I didn't figure out what they're attempting. I must be like Harry or Osborne, pretending to a sophistication I lack. Burn After Reading is a movie about stupidity that left me feeling stupid.