Metascore
59

Mixed or average reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 32
  2. Negative: 5 out of 32
Watch On
  1. 88
    Finds the right notes to negotiate its delicate subject matter.
  2. 75
    It's the depiction of the love and sacrifice of a father for a son that makes Life is Beautiful worthwhile.
  3. Starts out as sentimental whimsy and ends as sentimental kitsch.
  4. Benigni sets out to do the impossible.
  5. 100
    Benigni, with great help from young Cantarini, has crafted a work of such complexity that you may find both your brain and your heart simply overloaded. Which, of course, is the rarely achieved goal of all art.
  6. Has good intentions, but its exaggerated celebration of quick-witted improvisation ultimately trivializes the human and historical horrors evoked by the story.
  7. While it's futile to pretend that Life Is Beautiful completely triumphs--it's simply too tough a concept to sustain--what is surprising about this unlikely film is that it succeeds as well as it does.
  8. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    0
    Benigni's movie made me want to throw up.
  9. The indifference of the proceedings and the hero's slapstick behavior to the everyday realities of the camps borders on the nauseating.
  10. Manages to incorporate all these things into a moving yet unsentimental story about the beauty of maintaining one's wits while stumbling blindly in the insane no man's land that lies beyond wit's end.
  11. Ultimately, Benigni's comic refinery merely transforms the banality of evil into a lesser sin -- the evil of banality.
  12. 100
    One of the greatest films about the civilian experience of war ever made anywhere.
  13. A deeply moving blend of cold terror and rapturous hilarity. Lovingly crafted by Italy's top comedian and most popular filmmaker, it's that rare comedy that takes on a daring and ambitious subject and proves worthy of it.
  14. In one bold stride, Benigni has set himself apart from the rank and file of funnymen, joining the elite class of clowns who know that humor and heartbreak are only a howl of pain apart.
  15. A rare blend of comedy and tenderness whose point is not the horrors of war but the lengths a parent will go to protect his child's innocence.
  16. 50
    Life Is Beautiful is funny (kinda) and even tasteful (sorta). But in its fantasy of divine grace, it is also nonsense.
  17. 30
    The director gives us not just a pop Holocaust but a prettified, palatable Holocaust.
  18. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    88
    To see someone even attempt bittersweet treatment of this subject is surprising, but to largely pull it off is a major feat.
  19. 60
    Has one of the most stupendously tasteless premises in cinema history, and much of the time when this movie tries to beckon a smile, the effect is closer to astonished nausea.
  20. 70
    While it celebrates the triumph of humor, invention and the human spirit, Life Is Beautiful is not the transporting experience it might have been. Benigni knows how to make us laugh, but he has not yet figured out how to make us cry.
  21. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    20
    In this climate, turning even a small corner of this century's central horror into feel-good popular entertainment is abhorrent.
  22. Succeeds better than it ought to, largely because of the personality and prodigious talents of its director and star, the Italian comedian Roberto Benigni.
  23. Benigni effectively creates a situation in which comedy is courage. And he draws from this an unpretentious, enormously likable film that plays with history both seriously and mischievously. Piety has no place here, nor do tears until the final reel. Life is Beautiful plays by its own rules
  24. 10
    The point, I think, is the sheer callous inappropriateness of comedy existing within the physical reality of the camps -- even the imagined reality of a movie.
  25. Reviewed by: John Hartl
    70
    The story moves beyond the limitations of its setting, transforming itself into an affecting parable about the lengths to which parents will go to protect their children from trauma, cruelty and knowledge of evil.
  26. Reviewed by: Sean Means
    80
    It's a high-wire act without a net, and Benigni pulls it off with astounding grace and sensitivity.
  27. 70
    While most reviewers will accuse it of sentimentality (a charge that is justified), audiences, who don't feel the need to appear rigorous and tough-minded all the time, will flock to it in droves.
  28. Its unique message about laughing in the face of evil clearly reveals that life is beautiful.
  29. Reviewed by: Sandra Contreras
    50
    Benigni wants to tell a poignant fable rooted in the love between a father and son, but everything hinges on whether one finds his gags inspired or tasteless. Humor can only save some of us.
  30. Reviewed by: Joshua Klein
    80
    The concept is not so much nihilistic as it is realistic, and the fact that Benigni has made such fine distinctions so powerfully clear is amazing and moving.
  31. Reviewed by: M. V. Moorhead
    80
    If, like Benigni, you were born after World War II, it reassures us that he hasn't forgotten the innate seriousness of his subject matter, and that despite its grimness, he still thinks life is beautiful.
  32. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    70
    Sluggish, uneven and lacking in rhythm, it nonetheless has enough pathos and winning humor.
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 164 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 46 out of 49
  2. Negative: 2 out of 49
  1. Mar 1, 2011
    10
    This was the sweetest, funniest and most human story that could have ever come out of the Holocaust. I am in no way the sub-title type andThis was the sweetest, funniest and most human story that could have ever come out of the Holocaust. I am in no way the sub-title type and yet it had no negative effect, it may have even been positive because I liked hearing the Italian language. Full Review »
  2. Aug 8, 2012
    7
    If you watched the beginning of this movie without knowing what the movie was about, you would think that this was a happy movie about a manIf you watched the beginning of this movie without knowing what the movie was about, you would think that this was a happy movie about a man who falls in love and raises a family. Well, that is what happens. And it is a happy story, until the main character and his son are taken to a concentration camp. Once there the main characters happy fairy tale is over, and he is separated from his princess. But among the gloomy concentration camp where nothing is right, the main character tries to do what any father would do when everything is wrong. Make the situation seem better than what it really is. This is a movie worth seeing. Full Review »
  3. Mar 21, 2011
    8
    Roberto Benigni brought to the screen a most poignant and comedical film! He flipped around the devastation of the Holocaust and turned intoRoberto Benigni brought to the screen a most poignant and comedical film! He flipped around the devastation of the Holocaust and turned into a simple game most craftly. I love this movie and think everyone of all ages should watch this wonder of cinematic creation. Full Review »