Matchstick Men

Matchstick Men Image
Metascore
61

Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 213 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: A phobia-plagued grifter (Cage) discovers he has a teenage daughter (Lohman) who wants to get to know him?and his business.

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 38
  2. Negative: 2 out of 38
  1. 100
    Lohman in particular is effective; I learn to my astonishment that she's 24, but here she plays a 15-year-old with all the tentative love and sudden vulnerability that the role requires, when your dad is a whacko confidence man.
  2. This movie is a model of technique, beautifully crafted, often brilliantly acted by Cage and the others, but it's a bit hollow at the center.
  3. 63
    The best moments in Matchstick Men belong to Cage and Lohman, who, in "Paper Moon" fashion, prove that the family that cons together, laughs together.
  4. Both entertaining and empty: an emotional shell game that leaves you feeling cheated even though, on the surface at least, everyone is a winner.
  5. The movie is moderately enjoyable, but it also makes you feel conned: It offers up a disturbing protagonist and then substitutes cuteness for character.
  6. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    30
    My real problem with Matchstick Men is that it didn't con me well enough: I saw every trick up its sleeve in the first 20 minutes. If everything had been what it seemed--now, that would have been a stunning twist.

See all 38 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 39
  2. Negative: 5 out of 39
  1. Oct 8, 2014
    10
    Alison Lohman is genius here, and Cage deserves an Oscar nod as well, but Ridley Scott is the one who deserves all the praise. If anyone,Alison Lohman is genius here, and Cage deserves an Oscar nod as well, but Ridley Scott is the one who deserves all the praise. If anyone, anywhere, asked you about cinematic brilliance, tell them to look no further than Matchstick Men. Expand
  2. HenryS
    Aug 15, 2009
    9
    This is quite an amazing movie, mainly because Alison Lohman's performance was enough to knock anyone off their seats, I still have a This is quite an amazing movie, mainly because Alison Lohman's performance was enough to knock anyone off their seats, I still have a hard time believing she was really 23 then! and the end is indeed original, loved it all. Collapse
  3. Jake
    Feb 5, 2007
    9
    Cage is great in this film. He plays the part extremly well. It is a very humorous movie with a great story. Rockwell and Lohman were great Cage is great in this film. He plays the part extremly well. It is a very humorous movie with a great story. Rockwell and Lohman were great for the roles that they played. They gelled very well with Cage. Expand
  4. Jul 31, 2014
    8
    This one is very well done. Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell make for a great pair of leads. Both are very likable and convincing as con men.This one is very well done. Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell make for a great pair of leads. Both are very likable and convincing as con men. Cage, in particular, as a man struggling with OCD is very good and really portrays the struggles of an OCD man very, very well. Alison Lohman is also very convincing in this one and does a good job in her role. Ridley Scott's direction is also very strong as usual and shows good focus. The script is also solid. This one is called a comedy drama, but it was never really that funny, so it missed the mark there, but the drama was well done. The characters were all very well developed and you really feel like you know them all by the end of the film. In addition, the ending is particularly strong and very unexpected, which makes it all the more effective. Overall, this one is not some world beating film, but it is a well made one and a very entertaining film that keeps you hooked until the very end. Expand
  5. DaraHMude
    Mar 20, 2006
    8
    its a great movie i think. i like the scene where cage and angela hangout together... the ending makes the movie even more unforgettable. i its a great movie i think. i like the scene where cage and angela hangout together... the ending makes the movie even more unforgettable. i wish it would not end up like that because their relationship was very beautiful. Expand
  6. Mar 27, 2016
    6
    A small-scaled change-of-pace for director Ridley Scott after his run of high-profile extravaganzas “Gladiator,” “Hannibal” and “Black HawkA small-scaled change-of-pace for director Ridley Scott after his run of high-profile extravaganzas “Gladiator,” “Hannibal” and “Black Hawk Down,” “Matchstick Men” is a coldly crafty character piece about some seriously quirky L.A. scam artists. Odd mixture of ultra-sleek visuals, psychological probing, “Paper Moon”-like father-daughter swindling, self-improvement efforts and abrupt tough-guy stuff keeps the picture percolating, even if it seems too artificial to genuinely convince on an emotional or dramatic level.

    Based on a novel by Eric Garcia — author of the “Rex” dinosaur-disguised-as-a-detective novels — script by “Ocean’s 11” scenarist Ted Griffin and his brother Nicholas feels like a companion piece of sorts to “Catch Me if You Can” in its breezy approach to the con game laced with more serious father-sprig ramifications. Comparisons to Spielberg’s recent hit extend even to the style of the opening credits and the heavy use of upbeat, jazzy tunes featuring the likes of Sinatra and Bobby Darin.

    But unlike the high-flying Frank Abagnale in “Catch,” the title characters here are strictly low-rent grifters. Senior member of the team, Roy Waller (Nicolas Cage), is a world-class neurotic, a nervous-tick-ridden neatnik who hasn’t had a personal relationship in years and assumes a commanding air of authority only when conning some poor sucker over the phone or posing as a Federal Trade Commission official in order to obtain a family’s bank account number.

    His partner Frank (Sam Rockwell) is a more recognizably scummy operator, a young man on the make who’s equally at home hustling a high roller as he is talking a little old lady out of her life savings. Working out of a small office in an anonymous part of Los Angeles, the odd couple makes ends meet with their little scams, but hasn’t yet landed a big score.

    Much of the early-going is devoted to elaborate detailing of Roy’s obsessive habits, such as manically cleaning his impersonal ’50s-style home and counting to three before opening a door. Even these amusingly banal activities are leant a dark visual splendor by the imaginative images conjured by Scott and lenser John Mathieson, who have worked overtime to divide their blue-and-black-dominated compositions into horizontal and vertical patterns with the set details and slatted light.

    Acknowledging to his new shrink (a very good Bruce Altman) that he may have a 14-year-old kid by his ex-wife, who was pregnant when they split, the reluctant Roy allows the doc to investigate, leading to the disturbed man’s nervous first meeting with Angela (Alison Lohman). At first glance a normal skateboarding, backpack-wearing kid, Angela seems delighted to meet her dad, whom she’d always been told was an imprisoned criminal. Announcing that she’s “taken off” from her mom for a couple of days, she settles in with Roy, whose initial pose of being an antique dealer soon crumbles as the truth comes out.

    For most of the way, Scott keeps the mood jaunty and lightly engaging in an unforced manner. Much of this stems from the sheer eccentricity of Cage’s character, an intense agoraphobe with a frequently twitching left eye whose mania for cleanliness would make Felix Unger look like Oscar Madison. Cage adds to the physical manifestations of Roy’s instability with some fearsome rages and amusing attempts to behave as he imagines a dad should; his efforts at being an authoritarian are quite funny. It’s a showy and adept perf in a role that requires Cage to hopscotch abruptly, often from one level to another.

    Rockwell, whose Chuck Barris in “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” allegedly pulled much bigger scams for considerably larger stakes, seems right at home as the raffish Frank, who’s presented with no extra dimensions. It’s left to Lohman, so impressive in “White Oleander,” to provide a little heft, which she does by investing Angela with a sympathetically charged mix of youthful toughness and vulnerability; pic picks up notably whenever she’s onscreen.

    Although yarn ends on an agreeably human note that suggests growth and potential as well as disappointment for those left on the short end of the con, “Matchstick Men” never really casts off its cloak of artificiality and calculation; its pleasures are minor, however distracting they may be.

    Obviously inspired by Nino Rota in lighthearted Fellini mode, Hans Zimmer’s score pushes hard to establish an effervescent mood. As usual with Scott’s films, this one is immaculately appointed in all departments, with Tom Foden’s production design combining with a decision to generally avoid familiar L.A. landmarks in order achieve a feel of Anywheresville, U.S.A.
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  7. matta.
    Dec 6, 2005
    4
    Predictable tripe for the most part. I could see the ending "twist" coming a mile away. Also, honestly do you really think that Cage would Predictable tripe for the most part. I could see the ending "twist" coming a mile away. Also, honestly do you really think that Cage would have reacted that way at the end? That calmly towards a person that totally manipulated hiim and stole all his money? Even if he is happy and content at that point, he wouldn't be that nice about it. Anyway, Lohman and Rockwell are pretty good and that helps the film from being a total waste of time. Expand

See all 39 User Reviews

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