Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 34
  2. Negative: 1 out of 34
  1. 100
    The kind of film I instinctively respond to. Leave logic at the door. Do not expect subdued taste and restraint, but instead a kind of operatic ecstasy.
  2. The kind of brilliantly weirdo picture that, by all rights, shouldn't have gotten made at all but this time, miraculously, was.
  3. 100
    Hands-down the best movie of the year.
  4. 100
    Part poem, part jungle blossom, all brilliance.
  5. 90
    One of the best movies of the year--startling, innovative, hugely funny and powerfully, courageously moving.
  6. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    What leaves you breathless, though, is the knockout acting by the cast.
  7. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    At its best, Magnolia towers over most Hollywood films this year.
  8. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    Anderson must have needed that bonkers third-hour climax because there was nowhere to go short of spontaneous combustion.
  9. A quantum leap in ambition from "Hard Eight" and "Boogie Nights" and is, to my mind, much more interesting.
  10. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    The most imperfect of the year's best movies, Magnolia's flaws are easily forgiven because they are the result of go-for-broke ambition.
  11. 85
    An exhilarating and at times operatic film.
  12. Anderson's big, showy flower of a movie unfurls brilliantly, each plot petal a thing of exquisite design. Then it ripens. Then it disintegrates, leaving a mess of color and a faint whiff of rot.
  13. 83
    If you thought "Boogie Nights" blew it in its final third, you ain't seen nothing yet.
  14. Like Spielberg, even if the content is questionable or the performance is missing, his scenes always manage to be visually thrilling.
  15. 80
    Anderson strikes a near flawless balance between looseness and structure, and indulges the occasional flight of cinematic fancy without undermining the movie's emotional integrity.
  16. 80
    Highly audacious, hugely enjoyable, exceptionally well-written, brilliantly edited, and exuberantly actor-driven extravaganza.
  17. Drunk and disorderly on the pure joy of making movies. A frantic, flawed, fascinating film that is both impressive and a bit out of control, often at the same time.
  18. Reviewed by: Janet Maslin
    It's astonishing to see a film begin this brilliantly only to torpedo itself in its final hour.
  19. 80
    As intoxicating as the flower it's named for, and its characters, most of them as flawed and fascinating as the film itself, seem intoxicated by the overpowering scent.
  20. 75
    Exhausting at times, frustrating in others, Magnolia is mostly just exhilarating, the product of a raw, vibrant talent finding his footing in an adult world -- and unafraid to make mistakes.
  21. Anderson, 29, does so much in Magnolia, with such nerve, with wily humor and out-of-the-blue bravado, that the film's flaws and lapses don't really matter. It ain't perfect, but it's awe-inspiring.
  22. At times, Anderson may be too brilliant for his own good, and there is a risk that viewers will tire of the director's relentlessly prowling camera.
  23. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Magnolia is "Short Cuts" with hope. It's my kind of mess.
  24. 75
    There is undeniable power in Magnolia, in which small moments of truth are given epic gravitas, not just by Anderson's adroit cinematic style (no one's camera is more restless or inquisitive), but by the wisdom and compassion of the characters he creates.
  25. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    A remarkably inventive and audacious film that almost overcomes its flaws.
  26. 67
    Unlike any other film released this past year, be it from the aspect of its storylines, of which there are many, or its emotional clarity, which is, quite frankly, brutal.
  27. 60
    None of the characters in Magnolia feel as vividly imagined as the porn stars and filmmakers and hangers-on of "Boogie Nights."
  28. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    A hard-striving, convoluted movie, which never quite becomes the smoothly reciprocating engine Anderson ...would like it to be.
  29. There's precious little to think about despite the screenplay's comic-philosophical musings on fate and coincidence.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 197 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 50 out of 66
  2. Negative: 13 out of 66
  1. Oct 7, 2012
    Every so often a movie that you have heard a lot about but never seen blows your mind. Magnolia is one of those movies for me. Immediately after viewing this film I knew that it would be on my mind for weeks and that it would become one of my top 10 films. Every character in this movie is interesting on multiple levels. Every scene in this movie is thoughtful and poignant. The scenes that opponents of this film have problems with, the frogs and the musical interlude, work for me in every way. Both these scenes do seem out of place in this story, but for me that is what makes them amazing. They come from nowhere, but interlock these characters in a visceral, interesting way. There is so much to unravel in a film this large, with multiple plot lines and characters running both separate from each other and together at various times. You could probably write a book trying to accurately review this movie. I look forward to watching this movie again and again over the years, and trying to unravel all the characters and premises in my mind. Full Review »
  2. Feb 19, 2012
    Interesting interwoven tale of numerous lives although the Tom Cruise character dominates the movie. A superbly acted and directed movie which everybody should see. Full Review »
  3. Oct 7, 2010
    A rare success with this film is that it is a Tom Cruise film I like. But to be honest,it's not really about him it's how the cinematography is so interwoven you can't remember where you went last and where you are going to go next. To think of a story like this takes time and dedication and to keep you hanging on for 3 Hours isn't a bad feat either. Full Review »