Metascore
63

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 22
  2. Negative: 1 out of 22
  1. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    88
    Since Reel Paradise doesn't make the mistake of lionizing Pierson while it keeps up with him and his family, the results stay with you, like memories of an unexpected and surprising vacation.
  2. Reel Paradise is a deliberately untidy, open-ended, thoroughly absorbing chronicle that lets the lives of its characters spill across the screen without editorializing.
  3. 78
    True, the melodrama on display here can't compare to the likes of Larry, Moe, Curly, and the cannibals, but then this goofily charming quartet of Western outsiders is far more real than reel.
  4. 75
    The Piersons went, they showed movies, they returned. Taveuni is more or less the same. But by living and coping together for a year, the family is probably stronger and richer.
  5. 75
    While type-A Pierson worries about his projectionist showing up and a break-in at his family's home, his wife frets that the mass importation of American films will contaminate the local culture.
  6. 75
    An engaging if overlong documentary.
  7. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    70
    It's an engrossing and often very funny tale.
  8. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    70
    "Survivor" meets "Cinema Paradiso"in this wonderfully entertaining documentary about a film fanatic's quest to bring Hollywood movies to a remote South Sea island.
  9. Reviewed by: Jeremy Mathews
    70
    An honest look at the experience of a family who lives a yearlong tropical movie adventure on a remote island in Fiji.
  10. 70
    There's something magical about seeing a packed house of 300 Taveuni locals laugh equally uproariously, and, without a nanosecond’s worth of culture shock, at Queen Latifah in "Bringing Down the House" and Buster Keaton in "Steamboat Bill, Jr."
  11. 70
    The uproarious laughter that floats from the cinema wonderfully illustrates the universality of the moviegoing experience.
  12. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    70
    Overlong at nearly two hours but still a sharp and amusing and subtle piece of filmmaking.
  13. A documentary that uses Pierson's self-congratulatory mission to explore a deeper story about cultural clashes and the complex dynamics of the modern American family.
  14. The film is absorbing enough as an intimate family portrait, complete with friction.
  15. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    63
    An amusingly damning portrait of a man trying to impose his will on a world that, really, has better things to do.
  16. 60
    The Piersons are warm, funny people, and most of Reel Paradise shows them comically bickering with each other and laughing at the absurdity of the whole project.
  17. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    60
    Although it will most readily appeal to cinephiles…offers sufficient reality-based incident and ponderable cultural issues to attract curious audiences.
  18. The result is a gorgeous, third-person version of an extended family-vacation movie that the Piersons, their friends and their former Fijian neighbors can enjoy for years to come.
  19. Not sure we need to know this much about his family life.
  20. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    42
    Pierson, with his carrot-thin frame, gogglish specs, and gnashingly quick temper, traipses around Taveuni like the king of the white-man geeks, alternately proclaiming the saintliness of his crusade and throwing tantrums whenever somebody else fails to sufficiently recognize it.
  21. Reviewed by: Ed Halter
    40
    Unfortunately, what could have been a superficially amusing IFC reality series was stretched into a thin, overlong feature that follows the rocky integration of this very New York clan into a somewhat ruffled island society.
  22. Pierson is a high-powered egotist with appalling tastes and a great-white-father complex, and his whiny family is about as much fun as fingernails on a blackboard.

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