User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 41 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 41
  2. Negative: 5 out of 41

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  1. Jul 11, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Capturing the Friedmans: 4 out of 10: Child Molestation, family dysfunction, mass hysteria, homosexuality, and clowns: Where do I sign up.

    Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki was making a documentary on the high priced children's clown Silly Billy (David Friedman). A very angry and irrational clown that will play into every clown stereotype you will ever have (Think serial killer). Well it turns out David is the older brother and son of the two men convicted in a famous child molestation case. during the witch hunt style child molestation hysteria, of the late eighties.

    Could the Friedmans also be victims of same said hysteria? Innocent men railroaded to prison? Well it turns out no. If you're looking for a documentary on the abuse of the justice system, especially in such cases, keep looking. If you want a voyeuristic look inside a upper middle class Jewish family one southern twang away from Jerry Springer welcome home.

    Without the child molestation charges this would be a hilarious romp. Each family member from the angry clown to the screeching mother is a gift that keeps on giving. Using home footage that manages to capture moments that reality television can only dream of. Capturing the Friedmans gives you a ringside seat next to a family imploding upon itself.

    Unfortunately much of the movie concentrates on the child molestation case at hand. Trying to create suspense and play with the idea that the two men are innocent, the movie sets itself up for a fall. While some of the charges are clearly trumped up (naked group leapfrog?), the father is also clearly guilty (and pleads accordingly). The son Jesse, whose case is on shakier ground, doesn't help his own cause by pleading guilty himself and having zero defense witnesses. (I.E. none of the boys supposedly there come forward and say he didn't do these things.)

    Jarecki clearly was playing with the hand he was dealt. And while he had an incredible collection of home movies fall into his lap, his attempts at turning it into a documentary about the American judicial system fall flat. On the other hand if I were looking at spending six months filming Silly Billy the clown I would grasp for straws too.
  2. Feb 19, 2011
    I felt that the directer had a clear agenda. After looking into the case - he left out numerous important facts that would have made the world of difference. He apparantly only interviewed a small number of victims and left out and/or minimized facts that would have contradicted an apparant agenda. If it was done on purpose or because of lack of research - shame on him
  3. Dec 16, 2010
    close to an 8. I was surprised by this movie not expecting anything. Nicely done and it had my feelings for the persons doing the flip flop all the way through. I still want to know the "real" story but I don't feel cheated in any way. Must see movie.

Universal acclaim - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39
  1. Isn't like the classic Japanese drama "Rashomon," which suggested that one person's perspective of an event gave him a different truth from the person standing elsewhere.
  2. 80
    Andrew Jarecki could have done more to lay out the marriage of sexual and religious and social hysteria that made cases like this possible. But he deserves credit for having the guts to say, in this case and in so many like it, who suffered the most.
  3. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    There's a kind of rawness on the screen that most movies never approach.