Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 17
  2. Negative: 11 out of 17
  1. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Oct 10, 2013
    CBGB has more of the original prankish punk spirit than it even recognizes.
  2. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Oct 11, 2013
    Rickman is too theatrical, and too British, to vanish entirely into the person of Hilly Kristal. But he's entertaining to watch, and ultimately one of the more persuasive actors in a movie that suffers from as many odd casting decisions as Lee Daniels' The Butler.
  3. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Oct 11, 2013
    Alan Rickman's lead performance highlights a sincere but insubstantial rock pic.
  4. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Oct 10, 2013
    You can’t help feeling as if Miller has missed an opportunity. Punk rock was all about manic energy, unbridled (and often unfocused) passion. CBGB plays more like a folk tale.
  5. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Oct 9, 2013
    Punk may not be dead, but this picture is D.O.A.
  6. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Oct 10, 2013
    As a film, the result is static, like Ang Lee’s similarly muddled “Taking Woodstock.”
  7. Reviewed by: Kate Erbland
    Oct 8, 2013
    The absolute antithesis to the pioneering punk spirit it tries to portray.
  8. Reviewed by: Keith Phipps
    Oct 8, 2013
    No doubt a decent movie could have been made about the behind-the-scenes life of CBGB, but CBGB isn’t it. It’s as flip about the club as it is about Kristal, the music, and the time and place that shaped it all.
  9. Reviewed by: Robert Abele
    Oct 3, 2013
    In its stylistically flailing stab at authenticity, CBGB ends up merely a mess of caricatures.
  10. Reviewed by: Christy Lemire
    Oct 11, 2013
    CBGB ain't no party, it ain't no disco, it ain't no foolin' around. It also isn't authentic for a second, and it provides zero insight into the birth of the New York City punk scene in the 1970s.
  11. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Oct 10, 2013
    The most distressing bad choice in CBGB, a movie entirely composed from them, is that those brilliant songs are repurposed studio recordings.
  12. Reviewed by: Charlie Schmidlin
    Oct 10, 2013
    Director Randall Miller (“Bottle Shock”) could do worse than render the early-'70s punk scene as breezy broad comedy. He adopts that tactic and still falters though, deflating any energy or humor possible with his limp direction, sitcom consistency, and unfocused tone.
  13. Reviewed by: Tomas Hachard
    Oct 8, 2013
    As the film moves from one musical performance to another, the result increasingly feels like a series of celebrity impersonations set to a best-of-punk compilation album.
  14. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    Oct 15, 2013
    Transforms the glory days of Hilly Kristal’s Bowery punk/No Wave club into exactly the sort of moldy sitcom one might expect from writer-director Randall Miller.
  15. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Oct 10, 2013
    There is no story to speak of. Just a series of anecdotes that gain very little when acted out on screen.
  16. Reviewed by: Brian McManus
    Oct 8, 2013
    CBGB's biggest problem is that it's taken such electrifying source material and done absolutely zilch with it.
  17. Reviewed by: Eric Hynes
    Oct 8, 2013
    The film strives to cinematically reanimate that shabby underground lair; instead, it proves to be the most bastardized souvenir bauble of all.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 10 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 2 out of 4
  1. May 16, 2014
    Oh my gosh! Just dreadful. CBGB is so bad it doesn't even deserve an OMG. It feels like it was made by a 12 year old that never left the suburbs during the 80s but dreamed about going to NYC and CBGBs. One after another some look alike actor comes out and lipsyncs a song. Then it ends. Full Review »
  2. Oct 25, 2013
    I was entertained from start to finish by this high energy movie. The birth of punk music provides the backdrop for the story of Hilly Kristal who has a vision for a club where musicians play original music. He starts out a ne'er do well and never really loses his messy, gritty persona while building CBGB. Alan Rickman is outstanding as are many of the familiar faces, and the unknown actors playing the rockers are spot on. Full Review »
  3. Oct 19, 2013
    I truly loved this movie!! It is a love story to the man, Hilly Kristal, the one who started a movement in music. He was a hero, rough around the edges, like the film, but I think that was the point the filmmakers were making. The casting was absolutely super as well: Malin Akerman as Debbie Harry (Amazing!); Rupert Grint as punk rocker, Cheetah Chrome (Inspired!); Ashley Greene, the best performance of her career; Freddy Rodriguez was completely unrecognizable (Very very good!); Justin Bartha as punk rocker, Stiv Bators (F'ck'n awesome!); Donal Logue is always one of my favorite (Great!). The bands were amazing as well, David Bryne and Sting and Television were spot on!! Run, don't walk to see this film... its fun, its funny and its a great story about the birth of Punk Rock on the Bowery. Don't listen to the critics they are DEAD WRONG!! Full Review »