Mixed or average reviews - based on 18 Critics What's this?

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 63 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • Starring: , , ,
  • Summary: When a Hell's kitchen prank goes awry, a group of boys are sent to a reform institution, where they experience brutal sexual assaults by the sadistic "caretakers." Many years later, a pair of the now-grown victims encounter their chief tormenter and plot to exact revenge.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 18
  2. Negative: 6 out of 18
  1. Reviewed by: David Stratton
    Colorful characters, richly evoked settings, epic story of friendship, crime and punishment, and a strong dose of good old-fashioned star power.
  2. 88
    Two and one- half hours of gripping entertainment.
  3. 75
    As entertainment, the movie functions successfully. But I don't believe the story is true--not true to the facts, and not true to the morality it pretends to be about.
  4. By the end, the main thing that's been abused is the audience's intelligence.
  5. 40
    Somewhat byzantine in execution and confusing in its logic, the film's second half never achieves the catharsis you'd expect.
  6. The film's tone works overtime at mythologizing tawdry incidents into some ultimate epic about the lost innocence of youth. Gilded trash is more like it.
  7. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Rent the devastating "The Boys of St. Vincent" to see how slick and hollow Sleepers is, how little it reveals about the real nature and effect of child abuse. [28 October 1996, p. 74]

See all 18 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. Apr 15, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. With a quite unforgiving Metacritic score, this one is worth a second look. Kevin Bacon exhibits his range by playing a repulsive, utterly hateful villain. Truly memorable. Personally, the satisfaction one feels when he gets what's coming to him makes the movie worthwhile, in what is an eerily realistic and well-acted scene of rightous revenge that reminded me of the famous scene in the Godfather when Michael kills the police chief and mob don at the Italian restaurant. The recreation of Hell's Kitchen, New York in the 60s, the social types, daily life, the presence of the Mafia, the lives of the kids there, is very convincing and lavish, really well-done. Sure, it´s conventional and a bit dumb in parts, but the depiction of the era, some great performances make it mesmerizing at times. The users kinder score here is fairer. Expand
  2. Mar 11, 2013
    By this point, Sleepers is legendary, not only as a film that told of the shocking true story of abuse inside of juvenile prisons, but for launching the careers of some of today's best known stars. Along with being one of Brad Pitt and Jason Patric's first major roles, it also launched the film careers of Jonathan Tucker and Geoff Wigdor. Along with a terrific cast of legends and newcomers, Sleepers brought with it an intense story, the likes of which we hadn't really seen before. The film starts out by introducing us to four boys in Hell's Kitchen during the 1960's. These boys are your typical young teens, having fun, and horsing around, when a horrible accident leads them to jail. This is where they're troubles really begin. The second part of the film jumps twenty years into the future, where we see firsthand how this abuse had a profound effect on all the boys, and the results that come from their behavior. The only major actor in both time periods is Kevin Bacon who just keeps getting better. By that point in his career, I'm sure Bacon could have play just about anyone and made it believable. Other people like Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman, give strong performance in what amounts to bit parts in support of the newcomers. Their influence can be seen throughout the film, especially in support of the child actors who I'm sure benefited from being around such legends of the screen. Sleepers is an unbelievable true story that was so well written and supported by some fantastic performances. It's not the perfect movie, but I think it's pretty close. Expand
  3. Jan 20, 2012
    Le réalisateur de Rain Man au service d'un nouveau chef-d'oeuvre! Oui, Sleepers est un chef-d'oeuvre! Un grand film qui parle d'un sujet dur et violent (abus sexuels dans les maisons de redressements) non pas de manière excessivement dramatique mais de façon incroyablement sobre. Il n'y a qu'à voir la (longue) intro qui présente les quatre héros, leurs connaissances, leur quartier, dans la bonne humeur. Puis tout vire dans une ambiance plus sombre, le film dévoilant sa puissance. Mise en scène, musique, scénario, casting... Tout dans Sleepers est de qualité pour livrer aux cinéphiles un superbe produit du septième art. Et puis, rien que voir de grands acteurs dans des seconds rôles juteux et inattendus (Robert De Niro en curé, Dustin Hoffman en avocat alcoolique, Kevin Bacon en gardien de prison inhumain...), cela vaut largement le coup d'oeil ! Expand
  4. Sep 30, 2014
    Kevin Bacon was definitely the best, he is absolutely fabulous, as always! The kids were brilliant too. Robert de Niro and Dustin Hoffman;s performances were pretty good too. The first part of the movie was far more engaging than the second part. I, however, believe Brad Pitt was miscast. Perhaps Ethan Hawke would have been a better choice. I give this film the score of 8, although it had more potential it had a weak ending. Expand
  5. Mar 27, 2014
    Disturbing in the beginning and happy in the ending, Sleepers is relatively straight forward. The acting is good, especially from all of the child actors, Robert De Niro, and Jason Patric, the story is interesting, and the disturbing moments really strike a chord with the audience to the degree that they want it to. Overall, the film is a solid watch and while it winds up devolving into your run-of-the-mill courtroom drama, the intrigue is still there throughout.

    However, the film just never is great. It's good at most moments, but never really takes that extra step and is really missing the "it" factor that makes a great film great. As of now, it is quite watchable and is still a fine film, but it had just never reached for the mountains, which is a shame. Regardless, the film was a fine watch and I cannot complain too much.