Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33

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Critic Reviews

  1. The period details and performances are uniformly superb (Bob Hoskins is especially good as MGM executive Eddie Mannix), and the major characters are even more complex than those in "Chinatown."
  2. With an uncredited assist from playwright/screenwriter Howard Korder, Hollywoodland features some tart, lively banter and welcome comedic touches.
  3. The chief frustration of this otherwise well-made, well-acted, well-heeled picture -- a movie classy in its artful modesty, with every detail of plot and period furnishings lovingly conceived, every lick of jazz-influenced score true to the times -- is that it is so very self-absorbedly graceful about something so very insular and...unremarkable.
  4. It packs surprising punch as a biopic.
  5. 83
    While Coulter and company try gamely to forge two powerful stories, they manage, finally, about one-and-a-half -- which is a lot more than most films, and for which moviegoers should be grateful.
  6. 75
    Coulter is a TV veteran but a motion picture newcomer. His work here indicates he is someone to watch. The pacing is slow and deliberate, but the story never ceases to intrigue.
  7. 75
    The irony is that Affleck's battering at the hands of fame has prepped him beautifully to play Reeves.
  8. 75
    The title refers to the giant promotional sign for the Hollywoodland real-estate development that once loomed on the side of Mt. Cahuenga. Shorn of its last four letters 10 years before Reeves' death, it survives as the iconic Hollywood sign.
  9. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    Hollywoodland is one of the nicest surprises of the late summer lull between blockbuster seasons, a smart period mystery--cum--character study--cum--bitter parable on the lures and liabilities of life in its titular locale.
  10. 70
    Features an excellent cast all of whom shine. Affleck as Reeves has never seemed more charming and Brody’s Louis Simo is pretty much a scumbag who still manages to gain our empathy.
  11. 70
    Props then to Affleck. Coulter contrived a neat behavioral trick by inducing his star to play a comparably big-jawed bad actor. Surrounded as he is by canny professionals--Lane, Hoskins, Smith, and Jeffrey DeMunn as an unctuous glad-handing agent--it's an unexpectedly touching performance.
  12. 70
    This film is brave enough to admit that not all failed movie careers are the result of evil corporate suits, and Affleck makes us care that this likable but weak-minded man threw away what was solid and good in his life for the chimera of fame.
  13. 67
    Like Affleck's performance, Hollywoodland has its affecting moments. But generally it feels like an HBO original movie, where respectable but uninspired execution mars a fascinating subject and great cast.
  14. Lane, perhaps the most underrated actress of those deemed employable in their 40s, wonderfully embodies the mogul's wife.
  15. A whodunit, a whydunit, and an excuse for Adrien Brody to mug it up like nobody's business.
  16. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Hollywoodland explores an intriguing bit of Hollywood history, and through the strength of its performances keeps us engaged and entertained.
  17. It's a bit of a hodgepodge - unnecessarily complicated, clumsily structured, uncertainly directed and, as a whodunit, ultimately unsatisfying.
  18. This summer has given us two Supermen to choose from in our own distemperate times: "Superman Returns" was for the starry-eyed idealists, Hollywoodland is for the bleary-eyed cynics.
  19. Ultimately falls short of reaching the pleasingly pulpy heights of an "L.A. Confidential" or a "Chinatown" despite those obvious aspirations.
  20. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    First-time scripter Paul Bernbaum's framing story, designed to stir up suspicion that George Reeves was a murder victim rather than a suicide, unfortunately proves far less intriguing than does the melancholy tale of a limited actor reaching the end of the line during a transitional period in Hollywood.
  21. 60
    Thanks to Lane, Hollywoodland, no great shakes as a thriller, becomes a quiet horror story about the monstrosity of time.
  22. And though brilliantly acted, it's not. For some reason, the director and the writer (Paul Bernbaum) have chosen an exceedingly awkward path into the materials. They break the narrative into two strands and play them off each other in cheap and easy ways for insubstantial effect.
  23. This overly derivative motion picture thinks it is doing and saying more than it is. Instead, it ends up as little more than a reasonable facsimile of the real thing, despite a subtle and effective performance by Ben Affleck, of all people.
  24. 60
    Even though Brody works hard -- and he's got those magnificent drooping eyes, which suggest both innocence and a seen-it-all-before weariness -- his scenes don't spark, and the movie drags around them.
  25. This movie might have been better if it hadn't fashioned itself as a cross between "Citizen Kane" and "Chinatown," and instead had used Reeves's story to dramatize the transitional state of 1950s Hollywood.
  26. A film not nearly as intriguing as it should have been, centering on a death that isn't nearly as intricately fascinating as the filmmakers think. Exacerbating the problem is a cast of actors who seem too self-consciously playacting.
  27. The window Hollywoodland offers into old-style workings of the company town is fascinating to behold, however the film doesn't always know where to direct our gaze.
  28. Ben Affleck has packed on the pounds, slipped on some tights and given this exasperating film far more than it gives in return.
  29. 50
    They'll say that this year's two Superman pictures could not be more different, but they'll be wrong: Like "Superman Returns," Hollywoodland is laden with atmosphere but moves like it has lead in its tights.
  30. 50
    Hollywoodland has scraps of old movie glamour. It also has shades of later movies that sullied all that class and refinement with a lurid touch, namely Roman Polanski's "Chinatown." But that's all Hollywoodland is: scraps and shade.
  31. The film, actually, is a little like Reeves himself: It starts promisingly and trails off into indistinctness and mystery.
  32. 50
    Ends up as colorless as Reeves' first Superman suit.
  33. Reeves had an easy but peppy presence that was very likable, and Affleck's moroseness doesn't do him justice...and it doesn't help that Adrien Brody--as the film's ­other protagonist, a burnt-out gumshoe--is more actorish than the supposed actor.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 56 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 24
  2. Negative: 9 out of 24
  1. Randy
    Sep 23, 2006
    Adrien Brody was superb, and what a complex, compelling and melancholy story! Whether George Reeves committed suicide or was murdered, it Adrien Brody was superb, and what a complex, compelling and melancholy story! Whether George Reeves committed suicide or was murdered, it seems that the movie was saying that his life came to a sad end in a tawdry setting. Very thought-provoking film. Full Review »
  2. Mar 25, 2012
    Lady Macbeth famously said HELL IS MURKY â
  3. LewisP.
    Sep 23, 2007
    The problem with 'Hollywoodland' is that the film's protagonist (played by Adrian Brody) is not involved in solving the The problem with 'Hollywoodland' is that the film's protagonist (played by Adrian Brody) is not involved in solving the central question posed by the film. Brody's private investigator's ordeal occurs when he tries to take his 7 year old son out for a little get-together while he's drunk without his estranged wife's permission. After the Act 2 ordeal, he subsequently experiences an epiphany and at the end of the flick we presume he'll be back in his son's good graces (and also feels good about himself to boot). Unfortunately for us he's never involved in solving the film's central question--did George Reeves commit suicide or was he murdered? Maybe this is a film that shouldn't have been made at all since questions about Reeve's death remain unanswered to this day. I'm not sure why people see Reeves as a failed actor. To my mind he was a better Superman than any actor who came after him. It's just unfortunate that there simply aren't that many good scripts out there for good actors. Ben Affleck was better playing Reeves' 'darker' side but didn't really capture his charm or sense of humor. The female actors were much better in this flick. Ultimately, the film lacked suspense and probably could have dispensed with the whole Brody story line (a sub-plot masquerading as the major plot). Full Review »