Mixed or average reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 30
  2. Negative: 8 out of 30
  1. The cast is a pitch-perfect assemblage of pretty young things, but James Van Der Beek, as a slit-eyed dorm stud, proves that he can be an actor of cruel force.
  2. Reviewed by: Mark Olsen
    It's so playful, wicked and unseemly, by the time you realize that the actual plot of this brilliantly sordid satire hasn't started, the party is already over.
  3. 80
    Rules needs that dose of hilarity. Ellis' satire, filtered through Avary's harsh lens, is hard to stomach, harder to ignore.
  4. 80
    Propelled by a fine Tomandandy score and a savvy assortment of seductive new-wave hits, Attraction is top-notch trash, a guilty pleasure designed for the decadent 14-year-old in everyone.
  5. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Sex, drugs and rack 'n' ruin; pretty people doing nasty things to one another...honestly, what more could you want in a movie?
  6. 75
    At times darkly funny and at other times depressingly tragic. It's safe to say there aren't any movies out there quite like this one.
  7. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Further proof that so-so books often make better movies than good ones.
  8. 70
    Roger Avary's crisp adaptation imbues the copious bad sex and general befuddlement of Bret Easton Ellis's solemn, echt '80s Bennington novel with a playfully obnoxious energy that is often funny and -- almost fun.
  9. For all its kinetic energy, for all its camera tricks, for all its dark humor, there's still something a bit off about these Rules, and it's not really Avary's fault.
  10. The movie feels more like a walk across campus than a movie. That's so depressing. On the other hand, each of these lost children is really looking for the same thing, ol' Mr. Love.
  11. 70
    Actually I quite enjoyed the film -- but how do I get rid of this awful discharge?
  12. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    If there's one thing Avary gets right, it's the brutal use-or-be-used approach to interpersonal relations that Ellis laid out with numbing detail, and James Van Der Beek is down to the challenge as Sean Bateman: horndog, cokehead, ceramics major, and all-around jerk.
  13. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    Gets an ambitious, sometimes inspired but ultimately less than satisfying screen treatment from Roger Avary.
  14. 50
    There is no entry portal in The Rules of Attraction, and I spent most of the movie feeling depressed by the shallow, selfish, greedy characters. I wanted to be at another party.
  15. 50
    Some of its parts are nifty, but the sum of these parts is nothing.
  16. Although it would be understatement to call their characters unsympathetic, Van Der Beek and Sossamon play their parts with such doomed passion that they have some affecting moments.
  17. Opens on a display of humiliation and human degradation at its worst and then rewinds, like a video surfer zipping back to replay a favorite scene, to the nominal beginning of the spiral.
  18. 42
    It's a small-minded and jejune film, and it feels strangely out-of-date considering how loaded it is with right-here-right-now signifiers.
  19. Reviewed by: Todd Levin
    The big screen has a very difficult time capturing the talent of James Van Der Beek - literally. The aspect ratio of projected film simply cannot accommodate the full breadth of his enormous melon head.
  20. The harder the movie tries to shock, the shriller it rings.
  21. Juices up the visuals with fancy camerawork and split screens, but it can't distract enough from the vulgarity of the material.
  22. Most of the characters are one-dimensional, and Avary's over-the-top directing doesn't make them interesting for more than a few isolated moments.
  23. Looks and feels like a bad imitation of "Trainspotting" without any of that film's wit or charm.
  24. Reviewed by: Carla Meyer
    Nearly every bodily fluid makes an appearance in "Rules," a mean-spirited paean to hedonism set at an East Coast college where students attend class only occasionally, and then only to perform oral sex on instructors.
  25. Some movies just bring out your inner Matlock: a desire to grab young punks by the lapels, smack them against a wall, knock their cigarettes to the ground and wipe the sneers off their faces. Such is the case with the callow and cynical The Rules of Attraction.
  26. 25
    Avary has taken a pig's ear of a book and turned it into a pig's ear of a movie.
  27. And what of Roger Avary, the writer who shared the Academy Award for writing with Tarantino? He continues to plummet toward oblivion with The Rules of Attraction, which ranks with the Great Pyramid of Khufu as a monument to self-indulgence.
  28. Ugh. The Rules of Attraction is the kind of movie that leaves vague impressions and a nasty aftertaste.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 71 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 48
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 48
  3. Negative: 13 out of 48
  1. RicardoR.
    Oct 31, 2005
    This as got to be one of the most underrated movies of all time. Critics say it's superficial, well guess what? Youth IS Superficial, This as got to be one of the most underrated movies of all time. Critics say it's superficial, well guess what? Youth IS Superficial, and the american youth is one of most superficial on the planet, so this movie is nothing more than a loyal portrait of how college life is nowadays. Also the movie is extremely well directed in a sense that's totally innovative! Full Review »
  2. Aug 6, 2012

    by Dane Youssef Roger Avary's "THE RULES OF ATTRACTION" is a look at the

    by Dane Youssef Roger Avary's "THE RULES OF ATTRACTION" is a look at the "experimentation" of college life. Alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide and sexual escapades. That's not to say that the movie is all about--oh wait, it pretty much is. There are a few moments of outside "experimentation," but it is mostly an orgy party. This is the kind of film Avary is best at. He showed this with his style and energy in movies like "Killing Zoe" and "Pulp Fiction." He's been gone for about a decade working on this and has claimed that the "unfilmable" novels by Brett Eastern Ellis ("American Psycho" and "Less Than Zero") had been horrid adaptations because they strip Ellis's storytelling style (told through accounts of multiple narrators giving their fuzzy testimonies). In this new film, Avary tries to get that confused feeling down with different style techniques: rewind, fast-foreword, split-screen and multiple narratives. It sometimes works and it sometimes doesn't. Perhaps this movie directed more like Christopher Nolan's "Following" and "Memento" and Steven Soderberg's "Full Frontal" instead of Fisher Steven's "Just A Kiss." The performances are pretty strong, the best from James Van Der Beek ("Dawson's Creek," "Varsity Blues") playing the lecherous and sexually and neurotically charged Sean who's pastimes include anonymous sex and the use of every narcotic known to man. He has a creepy glare made famous from most Stanley Kubrick films and a sardonic and uncaring nature. An "emotional vampire" he calls himself. Shannyn Sossamon plays a college student who has eyes for her boyfriend, Victor (Kip Pardue) and is saving her virginity for him. She looks at gruesome books about STD's and other vaginal diseases to keep herself out of having sex. What Lauren doesn't know is that Victor is in Europe and perhaps having sex with with the entire Continent. He narrates a capsule summary of his incredible escapades and is one of the best sequences in the movie. Poor Lauren. She plans to lose her virginity to Victor, but as we see in the movie in the opening, that doesn't quite pan out. Ian Somerhalder, model and all-around pretty boy plays the now openly-gay Paul who has eyes for Sean and tries to get him to succumb to his side. In the original novel by Ellis, Sean is a bisexual who sleeps with Paul. In the film, the two are seen kissing and making out in Sean's room. But is it real or is it all in Paul's head? Jessica Biel ("7th Heaven") plays Laura's promiscuous roommate who's libido is running non-stop and drug intake is piling up. She gets a nosebleed ("rusty pipes") and sleeps with the men important to Lauren. Eric Stoltz, Faye Dunaway and Swoozie Kurtz play the only adults in the movie who are really no better than the kids. A bit of Mr. Avary's creative license kicks in here (Stoltz's foppish teacher, Mr. Lawson) was not in the original novel. He states he cannot deflower Ms. Hyde because he is married with children and she is an undergraduate. But oral doesn't count, right Mr. President? Avary's technique sometimes works with the opening's bungee-jumping narrative, as well as a split-screen shot approach showing how two characters on completely different paths walking along and minding their own business meet up at the same location. And once a character's shades come off, the shot completes--indicating love at first sight. Really nice, Rog. And the back-packing trip to Europe with the mysterious Victor who hosts and stars in this orgy of FF>. Some characters are kinda fun, but it feels too much like Avary is indulging himself too much to dig a little deeper into these characters. In Ellis' books, he lets us get inside the characters. Right into their heads in a way we did in "Memento." A more style like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and insider feel like "Memento" is kind of the way this thing works--we're kind of only getting their version. Still, Avary is a stylist first and foremost. He gave "PF" and "KZ" it's hyper-kinetic juice. So it's not a bad movie, not at all. It's commendable, if not a lot more. "Rules of Attraction" is worth a look any way you cut it. --Hoping There's Hope, Dane Youssef
    Full Review »
  3. Jul 20, 2012
    This movie surprised me with its grim and edgy theme. Yet it's originality and "Anti-cliche" feel, brought about it an essence of reality. TheThis movie surprised me with its grim and edgy theme. Yet it's originality and "Anti-cliche" feel, brought about it an essence of reality. The movie helped me discover a taste in genre's I did not realise I had before. Most reviews of this movie are surprisingly negative, which made it clear to me that this movie has een extremely underrated. I loved the way in which the movie showed the realistic thoughts of youth these days, and a slight aspect of love. Full Review »