Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 24
  2. Negative: 2 out of 24
  1. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Forman finesses the story's grimmer aspects as he did in "Cuckoo's Nest," and his ability to switch moods on a dime remains unsurpassed.
  2. 100
    Love proves she is not a rock star pretending to act, but a true actress, and Harrelson matches her with his portrait of a man who has one thing on his mind, and never changes it.
  3. The film catches us by surprise in its moving portrayal of the love between Larry and Althea, played by Courtney Love in a performance that glides from kinky abandon to stark tragedy.
  4. Reviewed by: John Hartl
    Raucously entertaining.
  5. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    Forman imbues the material with exactly the right dry, satirical flavor, yet this story is still a Frank Capra little-guy-against-the-system picture.
  6. A blazing, unlikely triumph about a man who is nobody's idea of a movie hero. Smart, funny, shamelessly entertaining and perfectly serious too.
  7. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Courtney Love's performance as stripper Althea Leasure is an amazement. Funny, unfettered and almost scarily alive in front of a camera, she's the definition of a "natural."
  8. 100
    Enormously entertaining and surprisingly touching.
  9. Reviewed by: Sean Means
    Althea is a ferociously vibrant character, and Love goes all out to infuse her with a wildness seldom seen on screen. Love holds nothing back, and her energy and her heartache energize the movie.
  10. Provocative and engrossing.
  11. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Vastly entertaining.
  12. There's a gentleness and open-mindedness in that touch and throughout the film that's a little at odds with the shallower script. But, in the end, that humanity pays. [27 Dec 1996]
  13. Reviewed by: Barbara Shulgasser
    With its fine courtroom scenes, excellent performances, great writing and superb direction it reminds me more than anything else of Barbet Schroeder's "Reversal of Fortune."
  14. 88
    Tells a good, intelligent story that keeps us interested and involved.
  15. Reviewed by: Chris Gore
    I loved it. I'm glad it was made...Film Threat's association with Flynt would sometimes bring gasps of outrage or phones slammed down in disgust. Now, it brings curiosity and even admiration. Kinda weird, huh?
  16. Milos Forman's drama is full of outrageous material that will offend liberals and conservatives alike, but it's positioned on the cutting edge of contemporary debates about free speech, feminism, and the effects of mass media on modern society.
  17. With "Flynt," Love does what Madonna has been trying to do for 12 years -- create a performance filled with humor, intelligence and soul.
  18. The result is good dirty fun, flecked with enough wit to help you overlook the relatively barren characterization.
  19. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    But long after you've grown tired of [Flynt's] escapades, the scenes in which he and Althea support one another against the slings an arrows of outrageous fortune are touching and, ultimately, genuinely tragic.
  20. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Jogs from one incident to the next, amassing information and dispensing attitude but rarely creating real characters. That's supposed to be director Milos Forman's forte; here, though, nearly everyone is an enemy or a stooge.
  21. Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski's script may in spots be as much of a skim job as their one for "Ed Wood," but it's almost as sweet and as likable, and if the movie can't ever practice what it and its hillbilly hero preach--the only "beaver" shot in the movie involves a corpse--its heart is certainly in the right place.
  22. 40
    "Larry Flynt" should have a slick, whorish look, but there's no juice in Forman's sleaze. Hustler's centerfolds look like Renoirs next to the cold-eyed way Forman shoots women's bodies.
  23. Reviewed by: Tom Keogh
    In all, this film is a major disappointment with a few powerful highlights.
  24. We're really celebrating Hollywood's freedom to create biographies of anyone, no matter how high or low on the social ladder, and still come up with the same banal characteristics, messages and conclusions. In this sense, The People vs. Larry Flynt doesn't champion, so much as squander, freedom of speech.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 43 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 1 out of 11
  1. Sep 8, 2014
    Although this movie is essentially about a sleazy porn magazine publisher, The People vs. Larry Flynt never feels sleazy itself, thanks to great direction and a script that promotes the message of civil liberties without exploiting itself. There is character development, great performances, and clear themes and messages. It may run a bit long in the middle passages, but it is still an important film about standing up for what's in the boundaries of the law, and not exactly what is popular or moral. Full Review »
  2. Apr 20, 2014
    Woody Harrelson performs at the height of his acting ability as the eponymous Prince of Porn, embodying Larry Flynt with a riotous irreverence interspersed by moments of superbly nuanced vulnerability and pain, particularly in the scenes where Flynt dissolves almost completely into madness. The chemistry between Harrelson and Courtney Love (who plays Flynt's wife Althea) is fantastic; they depict, in a way that's quite bittersweet, how the two came to need one another. The acting in this film is magnificent, and makes it worth seeing, especially for Harrelson and Love. "The People vs. Larry Flynt" is highly entertaining, and provokes some interesting thought about the ideal of freedom of speech, and what it should and does protect. Full Review »
  3. Aug 7, 2012
    This movie is truly amazing. Woody Harrelson's portrayal of Larry Flynt is so realistic and Courtney Love's portrayal of his wife is truly mesmerizing. What can't this woman do? Edward Norton's character is also amazing and realistic. A truly amazing, funny, but yet tear jerking and gasping film. Truly one of the best movies of all time. Full Review »