Spanking the Monkey


Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15

Critic Reviews

  1. 90
    A director with a more sensationalistic temperament might have milked this last section of the picture for melodramatic effect, but Russell's direction becomes, if anything, more brisk and more clipped.
  2. Unlike so many other recent youth-oriented independent efforts, it takes on difficult, even impossible, issues with genuinely astonishing results.
  3. Davies registers believable frustration and deadpan teenage disengagement in equal measure.
  4. It is also the sort of astonishingly fresh and self-assured work that can make a reputation.
  5. 80
    This is dangerous, dissonant material, but writer/director David O. Russell, making his feature filmmaking debut, somehow pulls it off.
  6. 80
    Russell's success, however, is in creating a film that avoids being freaky or an exercise in titillation by employing a mixture of sympathetic writing and black, black comedy.
  7. The movie's tone concurrently embraces melodramatics and wry humor, a twisted suburban Oedipal knot seen through a sardonic, yet deeply involved, eye.
  8. 75
    This is not a "nice" movie -- it deals with some pretty intense issues (like incest and suicide) -- but it is both bold and inventive, and works because of an unforced approach.
  9. Los Angeles Times
    Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Russell is unusual among first-time directors in his ability to mold and shape performance. [28 Jul 1994 Pg. F2]
  10. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    The movie is finally predictable, but it has connected with a generation that believes it has been saddled with the thankless job of raising its own parents.
  11. The New Republic
    Reviewed by: Stanley Kauffmann
    Russell wants us to feel the itch of familiarity: it's part of his tonal plan. And he survives this structural hazard because he casts all the roles so well and gives his actors dialogue as fresh as the familiar situations would permit. [01 Aug 1994 Pg. 28]
  12. 60
    A movie about mother-son incest may sound like a daring writing-directing d├ębut, but David O. Russell, the fledgling auteur, stacks the deck like an old sharpie.
  13. Despite a certain originality, the movie isn't really a success, not only because the plot bites off more than it can chew (the film doesn't conclude; it simply stops), but also because, like its hero, it has some trouble distinguishing between petty irritations and cataclysmic traumas.
  14. USA Today
    Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Even so, the film's incest theme seems more symbolic than literal in what is, at heart, a comedy about escaping the womb; throwaway gags are wicked enough throughout to keep the taboo plot twist from knocking this hit-and-miss black comedy off the track. [26 Jul 1994 Pg. 08.D]
  15. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    The story is undoubtedly weird, but perhaps more so on paper than on the screen, since Russell and his actors have played it mostly straight in attempting to confer psychological validity on all the untoward developments.

There are no user reviews yet.