Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. 100
    The movie would be worth seeing simply for the sound of the music and the sight of Jamie Foxx performing it. That it looks deeper and gives us a sense of the man himself is what makes it special.
  2. 50
    Sluggish, conventional, and almost completely lacking in energy.
  3. As a musical biography, Ray is driven by the primal excitement of rock-and-soul at the moment of its discovery.
  4. 88
    Contains large helpings of Hollywood schmaltz, stereotype and clich‚, but it's also pretty impossible to resist.
  5. 88
    Jamie Foxx gets so far inside the man and his music that he and Ray Charles seem to breathe as one.
  6. Foxx's complex performance and the filmmaker's willingness to look at the dark side place Ray safely out of the realm of typical Hollywood hagiography.
  7. It's conventional in approach and sometimes sentimental, even corny, in its content. But there were so many fascinating overtones in Mr. Charles's life and career that any account of them is bound to be riveting at least part of the time.
  8. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    He (Ray) was, a more complicated man than this film, or perhaps any film, dares allow. Foxx is not at fault here.
  9. At the center of it all is an incomparable singer brought to life by a sensational actor. With a huge soul to fill, Jamie Foxx has filled it to overflowing.
  10. Ray may be too by the numbers, but with Jamie Foxx out front, this is one film that knows how to make it all add up.
  11. It's a shame about Ray, because Foxx is trapped in a movie that takes the music icon's unique story and turns it into cheesy, sentimental American Dream cliches.
  12. There may not be a bigger-hearted performance this year than Jamie Foxx's in Ray.
  13. 75
    If Ray fails to present a genuine portrait of a complex man's essence, it does leave you with an even greater sense of awe for Charles' accomplishments, both in his personal and public lives.
  14. Differs from other authorized Hollywood musical biopics in one striking detail: its subject, still alive when most of this was made, is almost never shown as a likable person.
  15. Brilliantly embodied by Jamie Foxx in this unflinching, entertaining biography.
  16. No matter the movie's pitfalls, Ray, we can't stop loving you.
  17. Every once in a while, a performance pops out of a Hollywood movie that is so brilliant and unique to the matching of actor to role that it's impossible to imagine anyone else achieving it.
  18. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Bursting at the seams with music, Taylor Hackford's ambitious film provides a good sense of the pioneering entertainer's extraordinary journey and brings it to life with plenty of colorful detail.
  19. 83
    A frequently transporting depiction of the early and middle life of Ray Charles, the film soars on remarkable performances, a convincing sense of time and place, and, of course, the glorious music for which Charles was rightly billed as The Genius.
  20. Ray rambles on for two hours and 40 minutes, mining repetitive episodes like a TV miniseries.
  21. A fit tribute to an entertainer who, no matter what hate or hardship threw in his way or how many mistakes he made, we can't stop loving.
  22. An extraordinary piece of biography.
  23. 50
    As Ray nears its abrupt ending, it veers into camp silliness, complete with a psychedelic freak-out withdrawal sequence straight out of a Roger Corman LSD epic.
  24. Unlike his songs, the film holds something back. It goes deep into a life filled with as much trouble and pain as triumph and accomplishment but never quite gets at the root of who Ray is.
  25. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Ray could not have been made without star Jamie Foxx.
  26. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    If there were an Oscar for ensemble acting, Ray would win in a stroll.
  27. While not a great movie, is a very good movie about greatness, in which celebrating the achievement of one major artist becomes the occasion for the emergence of another.
  28. It's a shame his (Foxx) performance isn't surrounded by a better film.
  29. Hackford's movie falls into a meandering saunter. As the music grows dull, so does the movie.
  30. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    It's hobbled by the too-familiar conventions of the musical biopic: with so many chapters of Charles's life to cover, Hackford's movie never finds a rhythm, a groove, to settle into. It wins its battles without winning the war.
  31. 80
    Vibrantly intelligent and tough-minded bio-pic.
  32. 100
    What Ray does right, combined with its generosity of spirit, makes it the most satisfying American movie of the year.
  33. Were it not for the performance of Foxx, the movie, which touches every base and slows to a crawl near home plate, would sink even when the score soars.
  34. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    Falling on the meaty, potential role of a lifetime like a ravenous lion, erstwhile comedian Jamie Foxx, so good in "Collateral," is just wonderful as the eponymous star.
  35. 60
    The heart of Ray, of course, is the music and, whatever other shortcomings the film may have, it does not fall short as a showcase for the artist's greatest hits.
  36. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Delivers platinum performances, especially Sharon Warren as Ray's tough-lovin' mother, Kerry Washington as his lily-tempered wife, and Regina King as his spitfire mistress.
  37. Reviewed by: Ethan Alter
    Foxx is the one standout in an otherwise overcrowded film.
  38. Reviewed by: Teresa Wiltz
    It is to the film's credit -- and Foxx's -- that we are able to see, behind the flash and fury, a man who didn't know how to love, and was so much the lonelier for it.
  39. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    Sure, it’s the Jamie Foxx breakout role. But the movie around it is so systematically “inspirational” that it comes perilously close to sabotaging the breakout.
  40. Reviewed by: Kim Morgan
    For too many minutes of its two and a half hours, Ray flips through its cinematic pages with a breathless and-then-this-happened urgency, offering up little in the way of personality (or truth) beyond Jamie Foxx's strong performance.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 83 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 43 out of 47
  2. Negative: 1 out of 47
  1. Dec 27, 2011
    Jamie Foxx's performance in "Ray" is one of the best since Marlon Brando was "The Godfather". Up there with Colin Firth's The King's Speech and Phillip Seymour Hoffman's Capote as the best historical movies. Exploring the life of Ray Charles, Ray shows his depressing life, which is hidden behind his great music. Full Review »
  2. Mar 18, 2013
    Putting aside Charles' incredible body of music, and his impact on American (if not global) culture, I'm reviewing the movie, which is not a great one. I'm still pretty amazed, nearly a decade after this movie came out, how few people seem unperturbed by the degree of bad or over acting in this movie. Literally every single scene in this film has an example of it, and given the talent on call, the blame, as far as I am concerned, falls squarely on the shoulders of writer/director Taylor Hackford. Another issue I have is the editing/pace of dramatic scenes, which I found to be rushed, and therefore ineffectual. Perhaps laughably so. It's just hard to take this movie seriously at all, which is a big problem since it's so long. In it's rush to get to the end, the viewer is hustled along through Mr. Robinson's life like pilgrims through a museum with definite profit targets. Anything worth notice gets rushed, while everything that can be crammed in is. And then, at the end, we get crummy reading scenes that describe the rest of the movie. That's our reward for enduring this mess. More mess. In sum, "Ray" is overwrought, over-acted, corny, and too long. Full Review »
  3. Nov 9, 2012
    The life story of Ray Charles is a solid one. And here it is portrayed well. But, overall, this travels on the shoulders of Mr. Foxx.