Mixed or average reviews - based on 26 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 69 Ratings

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  • Summary: The city stands on the brink of social, economic, and environmental disaster. Southland Tales is an epic story set over the course of three days that culminate in a massive 4th of July celebration. A large ensemble cast of characters includes Boxer Santaros, an action star stricken with amnesia; Krysta Now, an adult-film star developing her own reality-television project; and Roland Taverner, a Hermosa Beach police officer who holds the key to a vast conspiracy. (Samuel Goldwyn Films) Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 26
  2. Negative: 10 out of 26
  1. Funny, audacious, messy and feverishly inspired look at America and its discontents.
  2. 70
    In its willful, self-involved eccentricity, Southland Tales is really something else. Kelly's movie may not be entirely coherent, but that's because there's so much it wants to say.
  3. 63
    Richard Kelly's Southland Tales isn't just a movie. It's an apocalyptic piƱata that's been bazooka-ed open.
  4. Love it or laugh at it, you will gaze on Southland Tales with awe.
  5. Southland Tales does have enough energy and audacity to suggest significant potential. But was it ready for public consumption? The answer is no. It's as simple as that.
  6. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Rarely has a picture been so self-consciously designed to be a culturally meaningful touchstone, and fallen so woefully short, as Southland Tales.
  7. 0
    If a more incoherent and self-indulgent movie has been released so far this century, I'm not aware of it.

See all 26 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 45
  2. Negative: 12 out of 45
  1. JavierD.
    Nov 16, 2007
    This move was great . Great performances & plot.
  2. TimL.
    Mar 9, 2008
    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
  3. JohnF.
    Feb 14, 2008
    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
  4. AlexR.
    Nov 20, 2007
    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
  5. Aug 23, 2010
    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 say Pulp Fiction but I still appreciated it for what it's tried to be. Expand
  6. DaveR.
    Dec 3, 2007
    I'm a huge Darko fan, which is why I wanted to see this film. So I was favorably inclined, and I'm sorry to report that it didn't work for me. I appreciate that Kelly explored some deeper questions about religion and civil liberties and security without pounding the same slogans and hot-buttons that too often pass for intelligent debate. I salute his effort, but it just didn't hook me. The characters are flat and the plot is muddled and convoluted. I couldn't keep pace with what was going on, and I wasn't much interested in who lived or died. In other words, the experience was so detached that I couldn't relate. I saw it but I didn't feel it. Contrast this against, say, "Sin City" or "Pulp Fiction", which managed to cover a lot of graphic-novel-type turf (I think this is the sort of atmosphere that Kelly was trying to create), while at the same time drawing me in with charismatic characters and relationships that worked. Expand
  7. StanU
    Nov 19, 2007
    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. Expand

See all 45 User Reviews


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