User Score
6.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 70 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 44 out of 70
  2. Negative: 20 out of 70
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  1. [Anonymous]
    Jun 3, 2008
    9
    Some people are too rigid, too mainstream, and too unimaginative. These people are the ones who gave a bad rating to this film. I've never watched a movie in which I actually enjoyed not knowing what the heck was going on, being completely lost in the plethora of non-nonsensical plot lines. The end clarified some things, and caused other things to become even more convoluted, which Some people are too rigid, too mainstream, and too unimaginative. These people are the ones who gave a bad rating to this film. I've never watched a movie in which I actually enjoyed not knowing what the heck was going on, being completely lost in the plethora of non-nonsensical plot lines. The end clarified some things, and caused other things to become even more convoluted, which was great. I loved all the cameos in this movie and the Rock and Stifler were amazing. Expand
  2. JohnF.
    Feb 14, 2008
    10
    Without first reading the prequel graphic novel, Southland Tales will seem like the most random film you have ever seen. If you read the graphic novel first, Southland Tales will still be abstract, but it will also actually be coherent and comprehensible. Was this a mistake on the filmmaker's part? Yes. Is it eccentric? Yes. Is it a great story worth dedicating hours of your life to Without first reading the prequel graphic novel, Southland Tales will seem like the most random film you have ever seen. If you read the graphic novel first, Southland Tales will still be abstract, but it will also actually be coherent and comprehensible. Was this a mistake on the filmmaker's part? Yes. Is it eccentric? Yes. Is it a great story worth dedicating hours of your life to understand? Yes. I do not know any other filmmaker and cast who experimented this much with the film medium since David Lynch. Is it Lynch? No. Is it good? Yes. Is it easy to understand? No. Is the film meaningless? No. Like Donnie Darko, Richard Kelly does not coddle his audience in terms of narrative. Like a dream, you are going to have to piece it together after you finish viewing it. Do yourself a favor and buy the Prequel Graphic Novel and read it before watching the film! Then buy the DVD and let the film wash over you like a bizarre dream. At the end of the entire experience, figure it out. Expand
  3. ChadS.
    Mar 20, 2008
    7
    When an artist starts to believe his own press; the premature pronouncement by some overzealous fanboys(and a few critics) that the filmmaker is a genius(and yes, "Donnie Darko" was very accomplished for a first feature film), it's no wonder that the "genius" would attempt to match that initial success, and therefore overreach with a project as wildly ambitious as "Southland Tales". When an artist starts to believe his own press; the premature pronouncement by some overzealous fanboys(and a few critics) that the filmmaker is a genius(and yes, "Donnie Darko" was very accomplished for a first feature film), it's no wonder that the "genius" would attempt to match that initial success, and therefore overreach with a project as wildly ambitious as "Southland Tales". As some of you may know, "Donnie Darko" was released into theaters the same week that the towers fell, and predictably, it tanked at the box office(people were too busy watching CNN) before DVD gave it a second life. The filmmaker acknowledges the historical context behind the first running of "Donnie Darko" by providing "Southland Tales" with a post-9/11 backdrop. Texas gets nuked. "Southland Tales" is an alternative history of contemporary America. The sci-fi this time seems forced(like M. Night Shylaman, who feels pressured to come up with twist endings), an attempt to catch lightning in a bottle a second-time around, when a pared-down "Southland Tales" might've worked beautifully as a straight-up political satire about our lives during wartime. The neo-Marxist group resembles a twenty-first century version of the Weather Underground, or, because the group seems to be largely composed of females, "Southland Tales" might be making a reference to the militant feminist movement that's rendered in Lizzie Borden's "Born in Flames"("Southland Tales" has the look of "Strange Days", and Katherine Bigelow was a "newspaper editor" in that cinematic manifesto of female empowerment), but with a difference: Cyndi Pinziki(Nora Dunn) is an adult-film director and Krysta Now(Sarah Michelle Gellar, a porn star; which acknowledges the fluid nature of feminist ideology. "Southland Tales" is very smart about how porn has infiltrated the mainstream. As for the sci-fi elements, the filmmaker's use of dopplegangers and California as a post-nuclear setting, calls forth to mind novelist Kim Stanley Robinson's "The Wild Shore". The final fifteen minutes of "Southland Tales" while undeniably beautiful, doesn't really make a lick of sense. This filmmaker could've gone the Peter Bogdonavich route and delivered a safe follow-up, akin to "Daisy Miller"(the film that preceeded this adaptation of the Henry James novel was, of course, "The Last Picture Show"), but instead, he threw down the gauntlet and made this rambling mess of a picture, which begs to be loved and hated in equal measures. Expand
  4. ChristG.
    Nov 13, 2007
    1
    The only good thing about this movie is that it eventually ends.
  5. StanU
    Nov 19, 2007
    0
    A mess is what this turned out to be. I'm all for experiments and stylistic/tonal shifts but this was just too much and too much of it. Couldn't care less about the characters and the plot itself seemed like a uninteresting exercise in threading the points with no regard for the audience. I'm no hater but it's just not very good.
  6. DaneB.
    Apr 24, 2008
    0
    How is the average a 6.3. This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. I don't care what type of point it was trying to get across, it failed horribly.
  7. Aug 23, 2010
    6
    Not nearly as disastrous as the critics say, I can't really call it great or even that good, but I can call it imaginative, interesting and very ambitious. OK it fails in many of it's goals, one joke about the future being more futuristic I particularly despised, but at least it was new, fun and somewhat entertaining. It was incoherent and messy, and the plot wasn't as well done as sayNot nearly as disastrous as the critics say, I can't really call it great or even that good, but I can call it imaginative, interesting and very ambitious. OK it fails in many of it's goals, one joke about the future being more futuristic I particularly despised, but at least it was new, fun and somewhat entertaining. It was incoherent and messy, and the plot wasn't as well done as say Pulp Fiction but I still appreciated it for what it's tried to be. Expand
  8. PnArdyPnArdy
    Mar 6, 2008
    10
    This is a movie from a twisted mind of a pure genius. What an inspiring masterpiece! Most likely you haven't seen anything like this before. It can only compare with such outstanding works as Memento, X-Files, 14th floor. It has the look and feel of The Fifth Element, Aeon Flux, Ultraviolet, and Tank Girl combined and at the same time sends a strong political message with a glimpse This is a movie from a twisted mind of a pure genius. What an inspiring masterpiece! Most likely you haven't seen anything like this before. It can only compare with such outstanding works as Memento, X-Files, 14th floor. It has the look and feel of The Fifth Element, Aeon Flux, Ultraviolet, and Tank Girl combined and at the same time sends a strong political message with a glimpse on the bizarre future apocalyptic word. It may seem a crappy low budget at first but soon you become captivated with its pioneering vision, outstanding script, decent actor performances and FX, brilliant soundtrack from Moby which makes it overall an unforgettable hard-to-compare-with-anything-else experience, the whole movie being only part 4 of the total 6 parts of the epic. Expand
  9. TimG.
    Jun 9, 2008
    0
    What. The. Hell. I'm going to be honest, I only watched the first hour, so if this film exploded into a mass of coherent plot and storyline after this point, then I apologise. But I had to turn it off because I was getting genuinely angry with it. The film starts with some sort of nuclear attack seen through a camcorder at a garden party, and I thought then that the film could be What. The. Hell. I'm going to be honest, I only watched the first hour, so if this film exploded into a mass of coherent plot and storyline after this point, then I apologise. But I had to turn it off because I was getting genuinely angry with it. The film starts with some sort of nuclear attack seen through a camcorder at a garden party, and I thought then that the film could be great - just my thing, but I was so wrong. The next thing we know, we're in the not so distant future, but a future that looks like the year 3000. There didn't seem to be a reason for that. Characters appeared randomly without explanation, The Rock is apparently an actor who needs to drive around with some cop, while his porn star girlfriend (Sarah M-G) rambles about some premonition for the future. Why did Rock need to drive around with him? Who knows, because it wasn't deemed important enough to explain. Was the country in a state of nuclear war? Again, no idea, because an hour in all we'd seen was one explosion in the first minute. The only hint that they might have been at war was all the nice shiny metal things, and fancy computers. I was left with no idea who any of the characters were, what they were doing, why they were doing it, or how any of them had anything to do with a nuclear war. My assumption was that Justin Timberlake was shoved in as a narraror because the story line was so weak that without him him it would have been nonsense. Unfortunately his part involved talking nonsense. I want my hour back. Expand
  10. MarcusM
    Apr 16, 2009
    5
    As a friend of mine said after viewing this film, "Well, I liked Donny Darko." I think the vast majority of us who saw this were thinking the same thing. For the first half hour, I was in love with the movie. It was perfect. Once the people with purple/grey hair and straight men with eyeshadow came into the picture, I started to hate it. Don't listen to the poeple who say that all As a friend of mine said after viewing this film, "Well, I liked Donny Darko." I think the vast majority of us who saw this were thinking the same thing. For the first half hour, I was in love with the movie. It was perfect. Once the people with purple/grey hair and straight men with eyeshadow came into the picture, I started to hate it. Don't listen to the poeple who say that all intelligent people will like this, because, quite frankly, this isn't a very intelligent film. The Rock does not rock at acting and the supporting cast had laughable moments at times as well. All in all, if this film was about an hour shorter, it would have had a much better chance at being good. That being said, with a cast of high-school-quality actors, this film can never be as great as it aspires to be. Expand
  11. DanielS.
    Nov 18, 2007
    10
    Wow, I just saw this movie and I was blown away. I can see why people that look for simplistic forms of entertainment might not get it. Kelly has a style like no other director and it shows. The musical number is Justing Timberlake is just the icing on the cake. This movie rocks as he the rock does too. I went with intelligent friends and they loved it. All it takes is concentration and Wow, I just saw this movie and I was blown away. I can see why people that look for simplistic forms of entertainment might not get it. Kelly has a style like no other director and it shows. The musical number is Justing Timberlake is just the icing on the cake. This movie rocks as he the rock does too. I went with intelligent friends and they loved it. All it takes is concentration and an understanding that a movie can transcend its limitations. Expand
  12. SarahD
    Nov 20, 2007
    1
    Bad movie, way too long. I would have left early but my bf wanted to see it through.
  13. DathanL.
    Mar 27, 2008
    9
    It's brilliant! As though Warhol and Jelinek had a child with AAD
  14. TimL.
    Mar 9, 2008
    10
    Outstanding. Alternately corny and profound, this movie's talents run the gamut from the weirdness of Terry Gilliam to the surreality of David Lynch to the overwrought sardonic tongue of Paul Verhoeven to the gleeful indulgence of Katherine Bigelow. Easily the most engrossing, entertaining, fearless, and unorthodox films I've seen in the last decade. I'm looking forward to Outstanding. Alternately corny and profound, this movie's talents run the gamut from the weirdness of Terry Gilliam to the surreality of David Lynch to the overwrought sardonic tongue of Paul Verhoeven to the gleeful indulgence of Katherine Bigelow. Easily the most engrossing, entertaining, fearless, and unorthodox films I've seen in the last decade. I'm looking forward to watching this about a dozen times and peeling back the layers. A blockbuster this is not; this movie begs to be chewed on for a while, and from where I sit, it tastes wonderful. Expand
  15. ClintJ.
    Aug 2, 2008
    1
    Wow. can I have those minutes back to my life? Big words have been used to prop this "film" up but those are by people who feel as though if they dont understand the film they are not sophisticated enough or enlightened enough. The fact is I you like drugs and are on them this film is for you. If you only have 2 hours of free time because you work hard and are not currently taking Wow. can I have those minutes back to my life? Big words have been used to prop this "film" up but those are by people who feel as though if they dont understand the film they are not sophisticated enough or enlightened enough. The fact is I you like drugs and are on them this film is for you. If you only have 2 hours of free time because you work hard and are not currently taking prescription mecds or doing drugs--leave it alone and go watch pulp fiction again. Expand
  16. DavidB
    Jun 30, 2009
    9
    I think the problem with this movie has so much to say. I was (for loss of a better word) intoxicated by Richard Kelly's work. Its twisted views and the imaginative storyline made for an overall thrilling experience. The soundtrack was near perfect and the powerful performances by Dwane Johnson, Justin timberlake and Seann william scott completely changed my views of all three, In a I think the problem with this movie has so much to say. I was (for loss of a better word) intoxicated by Richard Kelly's work. Its twisted views and the imaginative storyline made for an overall thrilling experience. The soundtrack was near perfect and the powerful performances by Dwane Johnson, Justin timberlake and Seann william scott completely changed my views of all three, In a wonderful way. The ending was absolutely epic and If you didn't watch the entire film, you definitely missed out. I will admit that some of the actors did not fit there roles but in a way made the movie fun in a whole new way. In conclusion, this is one of the most imaginative and crazy movie experiences ever, and I loved (almost) every second of it! Expand
  17. RohanH.
    Nov 14, 2007
    9
    I saw this in Cannes a year ago. It got slammed. But it totally rocked. Great example of a young filmmaker taking tonnes of risks and like Coppala did with Apocalypse now diving deep into the abyss. Formally inventive, great music and hilarious the mess is awesome.
  18. HugoS.
    Nov 15, 2007
    10
    Very thoughtful a messy inspired look at the future, and VERY original.
  19. AlexR.
    Nov 20, 2007
    8
    It's easily the funniest movie I've seen all year, a send up of Los Angeles movies (they're a genre), action movies, sci-fi movies, porn, and good old fashioned moral conservative hypocrisy (I love the tanks with Hustler logos). It's overwhelming, sure, and I can't explain the plot in a million years, but it had more ideas in it than all the other movies in the It's easily the funniest movie I've seen all year, a send up of Los Angeles movies (they're a genre), action movies, sci-fi movies, porn, and good old fashioned moral conservative hypocrisy (I love the tanks with Hustler logos). It's overwhelming, sure, and I can't explain the plot in a million years, but it had more ideas in it than all the other movies in the multiplex combined. Expand
  20. JeremyT
    Dec 20, 2007
    2
    I refused for a long time to listen to the bad press this movie was getting. After almost a year and a half of eating, i finally saw it, and realized that the movie really IS a cinematic turd. Some people went in WANTING to see art, so, like an inkblot test, they saw it. I refuse to let the movie confuse me into submission. It isn't a TOTAL waste, Lou Taylor Pucci and Mandy Moore I refused for a long time to listen to the bad press this movie was getting. After almost a year and a half of eating, i finally saw it, and realized that the movie really IS a cinematic turd. Some people went in WANTING to see art, so, like an inkblot test, they saw it. I refuse to let the movie confuse me into submission. It isn't a TOTAL waste, Lou Taylor Pucci and Mandy Moore give decent performances, and Cheri Oteri is good, but almost everything else is just garbage. Note to readers of this: Randomness is NOT a substitute for greatness. Expand
  21. JohnT
    Jan 3, 2008
    1
    Southland Tales is like a Philip Dick adaptation by someone who doesn't understand what's interesting about Philip Dick. It's unfortunate that the critical discussion of the film has otherwise been divided into two camps: middlebrow reviewers who "don't get it" and the sharper blades who, shockingly, embrace the film as ambitious and full of ideas despite the fact that Southland Tales is like a Philip Dick adaptation by someone who doesn't understand what's interesting about Philip Dick. It's unfortunate that the critical discussion of the film has otherwise been divided into two camps: middlebrow reviewers who "don't get it" and the sharper blades who, shockingly, embrace the film as ambitious and full of ideas despite the fact that it possesses the aesthetic sophistication of a Limp Bizkit album cover and the political cunning of that loud-mouthed libertarian kid from your junior-high civics class. Also, who knew a movie about the apocalypse could be so boring? Expand
  22. SethC.
    Feb 2, 2008
    5
    I'm giving it a five not because I thought it was mediocre (it was anything but), but because I seriously can't tell if it's the most brilliant incoherent mess of the century (i.e., the last 8 years for the mathematically challenged hyperbole haters), or if it was just an incoherent mess. You can't say it lacks ambition, though, no matter what your ultimate opinion of I'm giving it a five not because I thought it was mediocre (it was anything but), but because I seriously can't tell if it's the most brilliant incoherent mess of the century (i.e., the last 8 years for the mathematically challenged hyperbole haters), or if it was just an incoherent mess. You can't say it lacks ambition, though, no matter what your ultimate opinion of the movie is, and unlike Arnofsky's similarly ambitious but ultimately ridiculous "The Fountain," "Southland Tales" is at the very least a film that has a brain (though some sections of the brain may be cut off from one another). And for all those philosophy/postmodernist geeks out there, if you ever wanted to see a film that is totally grounded in the theories of Jean Baudrillard, your dream has just come true. Expand
  23. TonyJ.
    Mar 18, 2008
    10
    A truckload of taboos brought up in the most creative, twisted and natural light. There is absolutely no other film that will jerk your mind off like this.
  24. AndreasS.
    Mar 21, 2008
    10
    One of the best movies I have ever seen. A huge rollercoaster of happenings. A real masterpiece.
  25. AndyP.
    Mar 21, 2008
    10
    Unbelieveable good. A masterpiece.
  26. JayH.
    Mar 6, 2008
    5
    A muddled movie, that meanders on aimlessly, noit too sure what kind of movie it wants to be. It's entertaining in spurts as well as bewildering. With it's completely unnecessary 144 minute length, it can be tough to sit through. Dwayne Johnson was surprisingly good.
  27. CWhiteside
    Apr 6, 2008
    1
    Honestly, this is perhaps the most disappointing movie I have ever seen.
  28. DavidM.
    Sep 28, 2008
    0
    In with a bullet to the top of my Top10 Worst Films of all time, Eeeegad...how Kelly managed to get one dime to fund this sucker is beyond belief? Amazing thing, hype.
  29. EagleEyeArcher
    Sep 25, 2009
    9
    Southland Tales detractors seem to be stuck on trying to fit films into neat categories. I like anything that challenges our ideas about what a movie should be. Kelly has nothing to apologize for and I'm happy to see Goldwyn and Sony had the balls to finance it. I'm tired of Pirates of the Carribean.
  30. DrewF
    Mar 25, 2010
    9
    Richard Kelly is ballsy. Holy smokes. On paper this looks like the biggest mess of a film that you will ever see. In execution it is a beautiful, wonderful mess.. A true work of pure cinematic genius. This is how the world ends. And nobody rocks it like Richard Kelly.
Metascore
44

Mixed or average reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 26
  2. Negative: 10 out of 26
  1. The English term "shambolic" best describes a slow-paced, bloated and self-indulgent picture that combines science fiction, sophomoric humor and grisly violence soaked in a music-video sensibility.
  2. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    30
    Rarely has a picture been so self-consciously designed to be a culturally meaningful touchstone, and fallen so woefully short, as Southland Tales.
  3. Southland Tales has a mood unlike anything I've seen: dread that morphs into kitsch and then back again. It's a film that tried my patience, and one I couldn't shake off.