Metascore
55

Mixed or average reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 28
  2. Negative: 5 out of 28
  1. And yet the great conundrum of the Holocaust is that it was perpetrated by human beings, not monsters. Few movies have rendered this puzzle so powerfully.
  2. 88
    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is not only about Germany during the war, although the story it tells is heartbreaking in more than one way. It is about a value system that survives like a virus.
  3. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    88
    Viewers should know that the film's resolution, though admirably restrained and unsentimental, is devastatingly sad. Parents should take this into account. This beautifully rendered family film is told in a classic and old-fashioned style, in the best sense, providing poignant and powerful teachable moments.
  4. 88
    Even though it unfolds almost entirely through a child's eyes, and contains no onscreen violence, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas packs as devastating a punch as an adult-oriented drama about the subject. Its concluding five minutes are almost impossible to watch.
  5. 83
    The film has any number of chances to exploit the setting and Butterfield's wide-eyed innocence, but instead, it mines a vast, eerie tension by keeping both boys in the dark.
  6. 83
    Turns out this is a thoughtful, well-acted film that manages to view this most inconceivable of travesties through the eyes of child without being childish itself.
  7. Boyne's tale is starkly cautionary, and writer-director Herman handles a difficult topic with great sensitivity, drawing splendid performances from his young actors with David Thewlis and Vera Farmiga and the other grown-ups reliably efficient.
  8. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    80
    Opening half-hour has some of the best stuff in the movie, walking a precarious line between black irony and showing the war from a totally German viewpoint, without tipping over into gallows humor or parody.
  9. Reviewed by: Chuck Wilson
    80
    In adapting Irishman John Boyne's acclaimed young-adult novel, writer-director Mark Herman (Little Voice) draws beautifully modulated performances from his two child actors, who navigate a full range of emotions from wonder to betrayal to guilt.
  10. In key ways, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is like Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth": a child, caught in the waking nightmare of one of history's ugliest times, confronting the horrors of a grown-up world, and dealing with them as best he, or she, can.
  11. 75
    The power of this Holocaust tale sneaks up and floors you.
  12. Told from a different angle than any other Holocaust film I've seen.
  13. The result isn't meant to be an historical document transmuted into fiction; instead, it's fiction turned into a fable, a dark fable.
  14. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    75
    Because its gaze is so level and so unyielding, it stands as one of the better dramatic films made on this subject (although it's not nearly as fine as Louis Malle's "Au Revoir les Enfants."
  15. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    70
    The film's two levels -- metaphoric and nitty-gritty -- don't mesh until the devastation of the closing sequence, which both indulges in and transcends melodrama.
  16. 63
    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas should be heartbreaking, but it isn't. The muted quality of its impact is the result of narrative shortcuts and a desire to keep the images from being too startling.
  17. Herman's intentions are admirable, but his results are unsettling in the worst ways.
  18. The film succeeds to the degree that it does -- partially, but honorably and sometimes affectingly -- because it was made as well as it was.
  19. 50
    The bulk of the movie consists of scene after scene coyly setting up the same ironic juxtaposition, in the exact same way, about innocence vs. Nazism.
  20. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    50
    Although it's a far less objectionable Holocaust revision than, say, Roberto Benigni's "Life Is Beautiful," Herman's The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is yet another attempt to revisit a sorrowful event in history that should never be forgotten or used for entertainment.
  21. Reviewed by: Josh Rosenblatt
    50
    True artists will risk sacrificing audience goodwill for truth and sentimentality for cold historical reality, but Herman doesn't want your respect; he just wants your tears.
  22. 50
    I found the movie impossibly basic and sanitized as a "never again" parable of the Final Solution - and simply wrongheaded as a story about children.
  23. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    40
    The faux-naive point of view probably worked better in the novel; the literalness of film renders certain of the story's conceits overly precious.
  24. Reviewed by: Nathan Southern
    38
    Herman fails to journey beyond the surface-level realities of his central perspective, which makes his film feel half-developed and poorly conceived, and drives it into sensationalism.
  25. 30
    Watching The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, it struck me that weaving a touching little tale about a death-camp friendship is actually a pretty bad way to teach kids about the Holocaust.
  26. An appalling, jaw-dropping movie that will cause serious nightmares.
  27. See the Holocaust trivialized, glossed over, kitsched up, commercially exploited and hijacked for a tragedy about a Nazi family. Better yet and in all sincerity: don't.
  28. 0
    This might have had some potential as a German exercise in self-examination, but as a tony BBC Films production, with the actors all speaking British-accented English (including Jersey girl Farmiga), it reeks of self-righteousness.
User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 93 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 28
  2. Negative: 4 out of 28
  1. Jun 16, 2012
    10
    This movie was simply amzing. The story was heartbreaking and teached many moral values such as that doing something bad will haunt you forThis movie was simply amzing. The story was heartbreaking and teached many moral values such as that doing something bad will haunt you for the rest of your life. The cast was awesome, whith Butterfield playing his first ( and best ) role of his career. I really dont know what else to say, simply a masterpiece that every teenager and adult should watch, whether he likes nazis or not. Full Review »
  2. Feb 9, 2012
    7
    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is one of those emotional movies that you could easily put together with films like My Sister Keeper, A walk toThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas is one of those emotional movies that you could easily put together with films like My Sister Keeper, A walk to Remember or Remember Me, but the thing that separates this picture from the bunch is that the conflict is more believable and it involves historical events, so it approaches more to reality.
    There are three situations that add strength to the plot, the first one is the way in which Bruno sees the world that surrounds him and according to this he lives his life, the point of view and judgment of this boy is incredible because is pure, innocent and not influence by common sense or human reason. Second it is the relationship between Brunoâ
    Full Review »
  3. Sep 4, 2010
    0
    I admit I only saw this movie on DVD...and am really embarrassed. When it's all good intentions, but deeply unhistorical, you probably have toI admit I only saw this movie on DVD...and am really embarrassed. When it's all good intentions, but deeply unhistorical, you probably have to call it a kitsch feast. But then again, given the earnest and sensitive subject. I'd rather call it stupid and obscene. Nazi officials during the war, dancing to English swing music...had always thought that members of the illegal "swing youth" were imprisoned and persecuted. A Nazi family praying in public! A Jewish boy playing by the fence, when in all the camps, approaching the fence meant being shot. No fairy tales about the holocaust, please. Full Review »