Metascore
55

Mixed or average reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 18
  2. Negative: 3 out of 18
  1. When You're Strange, a documentary history of the Doors directed by Tom DiCillo, is for people like me who can stumble onto the scrappiest Doors video on VH1 at 3 a.m. and sit there, mesmerized.
  2. 75
    Unhappy with what Oliver Stone did to Jim Morrison and the Doors in his 1991 biopic? Here’s the doc for you.
  3. 75
    A sometimes insightful, sometimes absurdly devotional but steadily engaging film.
  4. Offers a worshipful but insightful portrait of the group - centered, of course, on its charismatic front man.
  5. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    75
    The Doors lit rock 'n' roll fires for only 54 months, having formed after Morrison met Manzarek in 1965, when both were UCLA film students. We get a sense of them as bandmates as they hang around backstage or rehearse, garage-band-style.
  6. 70
    Offers a mesmerizing, behind-the-music glimpse at a crucial and bizarre moment in rock history, and maybe in American cultural history, period.
  7. A must for Doors fans as the film attempts to disentangle the facts from the myths surrounding the legendary band.
  8. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    60
    Thanks to his major role in songwriting, Krieger is credited repeatedly, but the other two players recede as the band increasingly becomes The Jim Morrison Show.
  9. The real reason to see the movie -- and it's reason enough -- is the trove of archival footage, which shows a star of almost impossible magnetism.
  10. Like so many Doors chroniclers, DiCillo can’t help but fall under the singer’s spell; it’s understandable, but frustrating.
  11. 60
    DiCillo overburdens When You're Strange, which is narrated by Johnny Depp, with a cliché barrage of achronological news events, including an unconscionable use of Robert Kennedy's death agony, but the archival Doors footage he has assembled is anything but banal.
  12. 60
    As usual, the three instrumentalists (Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Robby Krieger) take a backseat to their gorgeous front man, though their nimble, idiosyncratic playing has aged much better than his pretentious poetry.
  13. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    50
    The man inside that legend has yet to come into focus 40 years on. Morrison wanted the world and he wanted it now, and he got it. What When You’re Strange can’t admit is that he had no idea what to do next.
  14. Reviewed by: Randy Lewis
    50
    Distressingly short on creative spark or historical illumination.
  15. 42
    Director Tom DiCillo does his damnedest to make his documentary about The Doors unwatchable, but the subject matter is too compelling--and the vintage footage too electrifying--to be completely worthless.
  16. Muddled, pretentious assemblage of film clips of the band shot between 1966 and 1971.
  17. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    30
    The Lizard King is a bummer in When You're Strange, Tom DiCillo's disastrously inane documentary ode to reptilian rocker Jim Morrison and his mellower bandmates in the Doors.
  18. When You're Strange is a remedial Doors class, taught by a professor who sounds as if he's doing voiceovers for car commercials.
User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Oct 18, 2010
    8
    An excellent reflection of Morrison and the Doors. Johnny Depp's excellent narration makes you listen to every word as we roll through this entertaining documentary. Full Review »
  2. Sep 22, 2010
    6
    I'll tell you what's strange... Finding an actor who looks exactly like Jim Morrison and making him do all kinds of weird crap that's worthy of the cheesiest Unsolved Mysteries dramatizations. Other than that I enjoyed it. Full Review »
  3. jiml
    Apr 18, 2010
    9
    Great use of the rarest, but marvelously restored film of Morrison and the Doors. The film goes far in showing genuine life and times without any new film shot whatsoever. No interviews but actual content from a great variety of sources. 100 minutes of a very original documentary chronicling a very unique talent and phenomenon. Full Review »