Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    But it is the style with which this wild farce is developed that sustains our horrified interest and keeps us laughing as the darkness gathers around Barbara and Oliver. [11 Dec 1989]
  2. 90
    Under the astute direction of Danny DeVito, who does a sly turn as Oliver's attorney, this acid-dipped epic of revenge is killingly funny and dramatically daring.
  3. Biting and vicious, a styptic pencil on the battered face of "civilized divorce." It's also thoughtful, laceratingly funny, and bravely true to its own black-and-blue comic vision. [8 Dec 1989]
  4. A compellingly watchable, suspenseful, and often funny treatment of a grim subject--the hatred that can build up in a long-term marriage--that also becomes an indirect commentary on yuppie materialism.
  5. Reviewed by: Steve Daly
    DeVito doesn't hesitate to send the camera anywhere to goose the humor.
  6. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    DeVito films this tale with a fiendish gusto, yet with psychological realism and meticulous attention to an inexorable logic in the plotting, even as the Roses' war moves from the outlandish to the surreal.
  7. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    Quite shocking, almost avant-garde in the way it constantly confounds expectations built up over years of formula pictures.
  8. The most brutal husband-wife encounter since axe-wielding Jack Nicholson yelled "Heeeeere's Johnny!" to Shelley Duvall in Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining."
  9. 80
    Director DeVito, who never did know when to quit, manages to be as clever as he is vicious. His first movie, "Throw Momma From the Train," seems almost lyrical in comparison to the ruthlessness of this vehicle.
  10. 75
    The movie treads a dangerous line. There are times when its ferocity threatens to break through the boundaries of comedy - to become so unremitting we find we cannot laugh.
  11. 75
    It can't be easy to keep a comedy on track when the underlying emotions are so vicious, and indeed DeVito's staging slips more than once -- too realistic here, too broad there -- resulting in a film that is at least as often funny-peculiar as it is funny-haha. [8 Dec 1989]
  12. The ending is especially inventive, managing to be sour, cynical, sentimental, and upbeat at the same time. [22 Dec 1989]
  13. Although the movie goes too far, you can hardly get enough of its delicious atmosphere - and of Turner, in particular, who has never looked better on the big screen. [8 Dec 1989]
  14. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    This smashingly filmed and performed one-shot is (uh, so to speak) the year's best romantic comedy. [8 Dec 1989]
  15. The film's outstanding nastiness, which is often diabolically funny until a poorly staged final battle sequence simply takes things too far, has something real and recognizable at its core.
  16. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    Trying to wring yocks from a deranged couple locked in mortal combat over possession of their house is more suited to film noir than black comedy.
  17. Reviewed by: David Brooks
    A great premise for a movie. Unfortunately, The War of the Roses is not clever, at least not very often. [14 Dec 1989, p.A20(E)]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 23 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. SandraN
    Jul 27, 2007
    The best comedy i have ever seen. Michael Douglas & Kathleen Turner were made for the parts they played in this classic comedy. I have looked everywhere to get the DVD for this movie. Full Review »
  2. SunnyG
    Jan 2, 2007
    Apt handling of subject. Great movie. So true...There is no winner, better get out of the divorce as quickly as possible if it becomes inevitable.