Metascore
64

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 31
  2. Negative: 1 out of 31
  1. 75
    It needs a study guide, and viewing "Citizen Kane" might be a good place to start.
  2. Some may find the movie too crowded and preachy to serve as a meaningful history lesson, but it will delight anyone who thinks our cynical age could benefit from recalling the vigorous idealism and venturesome artistry of a bygone era.
  3. Robbins the agitprop celebrity may be blowin' in the wind, but Robbins, the son of a folksinger, knows how to get audiences clapping along.
  4. Its nervy decision to cut as wide a swath as possible through one of the most exciting and meaningful periods of our history have created something that's impossible not to both applaud and enjoy.
  5. 60
    Robbins has made a drastically different film from the one Welles envisioned -- it's wacky where Welles is absurd, cynical where Welles is canny.
  6. There's something stirring and gutsy about this evocation of collective ferment -- not to mention timely, in the wake of the Seattle uprising against the World Trade Organization.
  7. It's packed with such passion, humor, fine acting in small roles - there are no big ones - and vitality in the storytelling that the lesson comes across entertainingly.
  8. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    70
    Succeeds far more often than not in delivering a credible, kaleidoscopic portrait of creative, and often famous, individuals.
  9. A missed opportunity to shed light on one of America's most turbulent times.
  10. 67
    A frustrating, pedantic, cacophonous jumble of a picture, peopled with as many straw men and caricatures as living, breathing humans.
  11. 88
    The movie's best moments belong to Bill Murray,
  12. Cradle Will Rock is the masterpiece that wasn't, a magnificent opportunity blown to hell.
  13. An ambitious effort that fails as satire and as history, although it probably succeeds as a cautionary tale.
  14. It's an interesting and likably ambitious movie with an ensemble of mostly engaging character vignettes, but, sadly, it misses its mark.
  15. 60
    Historical forces and famous ghosts jostle past each other in this evocation of mid-1930s New York like harried commuters at Grand Central Station.
  16. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    88
    Rock actually rocks out as one of the year's most purely entertaining movies (just keep thinking: Bill Murray as a ventriloquist).
  17. Cradle Will Rock is left in mid-rock, as it were, its energy squandered, its sense of history confused, its sound and fury ultimately signifying nothing.
  18. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    75
    Brings the '30s vividly to the screen.
  19. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    50
    Robbins eschews leftist diatribes for a bold cartoon version of history. It's as crowded and energetic as a big parade...and just about as subtle.
  20. There is hardly a moment during this overlong, stunningly smug exercise in moral self-satisfaction when you actually care about a character, real or invented.
  21. Wildly ambitious, unwieldy epic.
  22. Although Robbins might have drawn some of these characters with less obviousness and more satirical bite, he ably keeps this lively, complicated film on track.
  23. 60
    Obviously influenced by the style of Robert Altman's multi-character extravaganzas, Robbins has seized on this incident as the centerpiece in a carnival about the conflicts among art, politics and commerce.
  24. 89
    Even if the great debate that pits artistic integrity against corporate compromise doesn't thrill you, see Cradle Will Rock anyway. It's marvelous, provocative entertainment; art for art's sake.
  25. 50
    In the end, it's all just too damned much. It's more exhausting than edifying.
  26. Reviewed by: Steve Simels
    90
    Stunningly cinematic and audacious on every level, writer/director Tim Robbins's look at the collision of the Depression-era art world and politics may well be a masterpiece.
  27. Commands respect as mainstream filmmaking with more of an agenda than just pimping cinematic junk food to the brain-dead masses.
  28. 60
    Thoroughly artificial and overly schematic, to the point of caricature even, but often lively and witty nonetheless.
  29. Reviewed by: Christine Dolen
    75
    An ensemble cast brimming with great theater actors and movie stars tears into a collection of meaty, moving, funny roles, with largely vibrant results.
  30. Reviewed by: Edvin Beitiks
    63
    A fun movie, with moments guaranteed to bring you close to tears. But, like most of Robbins' work, it's a cartoon, an emotional cartoon.
  31. Reviewed by: Don Kaye
    80
    Entertaining and educational.

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