Metascore
58

Mixed or average reviews - based on 28 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 12 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Based on a true story, this film features Julianne Moore as a 1950's mother who defies the conventions of the day and finds a way to keep her family together by applying her remarkable resourcefulness and uncommon wit. (Go Fish Pictures)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 28
  2. Negative: 1 out of 28
  1. 88
    Avoids obvious sentiment and predictable emotion and shows this woman somehow holding it together year after year, entering goofy contests that for her family mean life and death.
  2. Reviewed by: Angel Cohn
    75
    Moore and Harrelson are very well cast.
  3. 75
    With its predictable confrontations and tacky fantasy sequences, you feel writer/director Jane Anderson steering the material toward schmaltzy movie-of-the-week territory at every turn.
  4. 70
    It has its own subversive power, as it elevates one family's struggle for working-class survival and valorizes a woman of simple faith and inner strength.
  5. 50
    It's tough to imagine a guy who won't squirm through this tale of 1950s housewife Evelyn Ryan.
  6. 50
    Moore's scenes with a miscast-but-game Harrelson offer a study in how spouses learn to handle even their partners' most destructive impulses, but in most other moments, Anderson fails to get beyond the surface of her characters' lives.
  7. 38
    This maudlin, fact-inspired and anti-feminist dramedy is no "Far From Heaven" or "The Hours."

See all 28 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 8
  2. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. Jul 20, 2013
    7
    After seeing this film, I knew it had to be a true story, and sure enough it was. The story of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio is a terrific one, that you just couldn't make up. The book was written by one of a families ten children, about their mother and how she raised their entire family by winning sweepstakes, which were extremely popular in the 50's and 60's. The Ryan family was your typical suburban family, Kelly (Woody Harrelson) worked in a mill and spends most of his paycheck on alcohol. That leaves Evelyn (Julianna Moore) to raise 10 kids on almost no money. Evelyn was in advertising before she became a housewife and had a knack for writing slogans and jingles. As a result of her circumstances, she entered every contest she could find and surprisingly won a large number of them, despite the odds. She won the house they live in, as well as most of the appliances, and even a few cars they sold. The story was truly fantastic and a wonderful tribute to a woman, who in some ways could be considered a modern day working mother. Evelyn was played by Julianna Moore, who gives the performance of her life. Once again, an independent film is overlooked by the Academy, but had this been a major release, there is no doubt in my mind that Moore would have won the Oscar, she is really that good. A good portion of the story is focused on this extraordinary woman, but we do meet her husband and we see her kids at various ages and walks of live. It seems like a movie that could quickly fizzle out, but life is never slow or boring in the Kelly household. On a side note, the author of the book, Evelyn's oldest daughter really made a name for herself with this book and made a cameo at the end of the film. Unfortunately, her career was short lived, as she passed away shortly after the films release. The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio is the kind of tribute we'd all love to give our parents, but most of our parents didn't do the extraordinary things Evelyn Ryan did. It's a heartwarming story that shows no matter how bad things get, there is always a way, and that's a message we can all relate to. Expand

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