• Network: HBO
  • Series Premiere Date: May 25, 2008

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 25
  2. Negative: 3 out of 25

Critic Reviews

  1. 30
    HBO's Recount fails. Invented dialogue and actions attributed to real-world figures play side by side with, and are indistinguishable from, verifiable actions and events that took place in Florida in 2000.
  2. 40
    Recount should be tight and tense, or, perhaps, wildly satirical. Instead, it just rehashes the mess all over again, in detail, with lots of news footage to support the dutifully invented backstage scenes.
  3. 75
    Recount, an efficient and relentless enactment of the strategists on both sides of the Florida controversy, shows an accident that was waiting to happen
  4. 40
    It has so much political minutiae to get through--the hanging chads, the vote-counting procedures, the legal maneuverings, etc.--that the characters get short shrift.
  5. At one point, before a press conference, Dern morphs her face from that of a human being into Harris' crazy-cuckoo public mask, and the moment is absolutely chilling. Fair? Debatable, but like Recount, it's a gorgeous bit of political theater.
  6. 80
    Written with an eye for telling detail by Danny Strong, and directed in surprisingly nimble fashion by blockbuster-comedy wrangler Jay Roach (of the Austin Powers movies and Meet the Parents fame), it has the peculiarly alchemic structure of a nail-biting tragi-farce.
  7. Recount effectively dramatizes that struggle, mixing a true-to-life script with real news footage.
  8. With the exceptions of a furious Denis Leary as Michael Whouley, chief political strategist of the Democratic National Committee, and an over-the-top Laura Dern as Katherine Harris, Florida’s hothouse secretary of State, a splendid cast mostly just sits around watching the bad news on television, dutiful to the letter of Danny Strong’s conscientious script yet insufficiently roused to righteous spirit even as, before their eyes, our republic gets banana’d.
  9. 75
    Wilkinson steals the entire movie with his portrayal of Baker, playing him as a brilliant, wily political strategist.
  10. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    A watchable and skillfully made telefilm (Jay Roach of "Austin Powers" fame directed) that is, nonetheless, marred by a melodramatic reliance on Good vs. Evil, and guess which side is which?
  11. 100
    Director Jay Roach and writer Danny Strong do a superb job of putting you back in the 36-day marathon about the outcome of the 2000 presidential election in Florida. Don't want to go there? You'll miss a brilliant cast headed by Kevin Spacey and Denis Leary.
  12. Populated by some super actors, the film, sometimes fascinating, sometimes too drawn out, gets inside the frenzied Florida jockeying for a presidential victory.
  13. HBO's Recount is an entertaining political drama, one in which both Democrats and Republicans get dinged, but the film is clearly sympathetic toward the underdog Democrats.
  14. 60
    Assuming that you share its sense of outrage at what Jim Baker and Supremes wrought (in a decision they declared a one-off, not applicable to any future rulings), the movie offers easy targets and conclusions. But to intimate there was a way to “win” if only everyone had played fair, Recount has to back off the entrenched problems and the more horrific conclusion, that the system is rigged and no matter who plays it, the end is the same.
  15. 70
    Needless to say, Kevin Spacey and Denis Leary are both lively and funny in their roles as members of Al Gore's team, but it's Laura Dern who really steals the movie with her hysterically self-involved portrait of Katherine Harris.
  16. Recount pays due diligence to history while at the same time fictionalizing the interactions of the participants.
  17. 38
    The film is already a lost cause from its opening scene, during which an old woman wearing a Star of David necklace walks into a polling station and appears stricken by either IBS or Alzheimer's after accidentally screwing up her butterfly ballot.
  18. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    The one redeeming factor here is Laura Dern, who puts that elastic jolie laide mug of hers to memorable use as Katherine Harris. The performance makes you wish that Recount--which does contain a few fine moments of wild farce--had instead been created as a seven-episode sitcom playing out from her point of view.
  19. Sure enough, HBO's "Recount" is replete with inside politics. But it also has well-written characters, first-class acting and confident directing, which produces a level of tension and suspense you wouldn’t expect in a story about a widely reported recent event.
  20. Recount, an astute and deliciously engrossing film on HBO this Sunday night, retells the tale of Florida in all its bizarre and inglorious moments, from haggling over the “hanging chad” and “butterfly ballots” to the ruckus between the Florida secretary of state, Katherine Harris, and the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board.
  21. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    While it's not a great TV movie--it's basically a high-class Movie of the Week, a docudrama that dramatizes events you'll recall from the news at the time if you were following it--it's nonetheless a gripping recounting (ha!) of a Presidential drama that was pretty gripping at the time to begin with.
  22. 80
    HBO’s crisply told, colorfully acted Recount wants to be both legal thriller and nightmare farce as it recounts, with news footage and dramatic re-creation, the cliff-hanger aftermath in Florida of the 2000 “squeaker” election between George W. Bush and Al Gore (both mostly off camera).
  23. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Smart, star-studded and anchored by another fine-tuned performance from Kevin Spacey, Recount finds the sweet spot between theatrical fare and TV that's precisely the constituency HBO wants to reach.
  24. Even viewers who had thought they never wanted to hear about a dimpled chad again will find that Recount moves along at a satisfying clip and can make the old drama and suspense seem surprisingly fresh.
  25. 90
    Although Recount is a smashing success on almost every level, it's also a brutally disheartening experience for the story it tells.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 35 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 35
  2. Negative: 9 out of 35
  1. Jul 29, 2017
    A recounting of the Recount in the aftermath of the 2000 Presidential election, Jay Roach's Recount is a made-for-HBO film that, as always,A recounting of the Recount in the aftermath of the 2000 Presidential election, Jay Roach's Recount is a made-for-HBO film that, as always, features a truly stacked cast. Focusing on the election, the hanging chad issue, and the ensuing legal battles in Florida and in the United States Supreme Court, the film is a truly riveting re-enactment of the events that transpired. However, it does feel entirely confined by its true story. Throughout, it is a film that feels too much like a re-enactment and not like a film, instead playing out like a History channel documentary that has people acting out the scenes that historians are discussing in interviews. This, along with some pro-Democrat bias along the way, does undermine Recount in the end, no matter how riveting its re-telling of the events surrounding the election are.

    One of the most controversial moments of the 21st Century, the events and circumstances surrounding the election of George W. Bush as President over Al Gore are riveting. Director Jay Roach's film benefits from the natural tension of its story, delivering a constantly spell-binding political thriller. With an impassioned central performance from Kevin Spacey as Ron Klain, Gore's former Chief of Staff and a member of the team pursuing legal recourse, the film is one loaded with tension as Klain fights for what is right: counting the votes. Whether Bush or Gore won, finding out who everybody voted for in the archaic system used by Florida is the central issue. If Gore won, great. If Bush won, at least it was determined in a fair fashion. As Klain, Spacey delivers much of the emotion and tension in the film, being portrayed as a real American patriot. Despite his being on the Gore campaign, he makes it clear that he is not even sure he likes Gore himself. He just wants the truth to come out, which is a truly noble cause. On the other side, the team put together by Bush including former Secretary of State James Baker (Tom Wilkinson) are easy to root against as they try to suppress votes at all turns, refusing to admit there are issues.

    Yet, therein lies the issue. As an underdog story, it is too easy to root for the Democrats and against the Republicans. Whether or not either side is the "bad guy" in this situation, Recount is a film that does try to be even in presentation, but never really succeeds. In particular, the portrayal of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris (Laura Dern) is egregious. Dern is excellent, stealing the show entirely, but Harris is too comical, conceited, and stupid to be taken seriously. She is turned into a comedic punching bag, instead of a serious figure. Constantly shown as being the bad guy for not letting the Democrats push back the deadline - even if the law says she does not have to - Harris really does get a raw deal in the film. Here, the film really tips its hand as a Democrat-leaning work, further doubling down in its portrayal of Baker and Ben Ginsberg (Bob Balaban) as similarly comical figures who fight dirty (even if that is right route). By showing the Republicans as being dirty, corrupt, and employing lobbyists, Recount makes it too easy to root against them, even if the Democrats are just as bad as their opposition. Unfortunately, their determination to make their candidate president is shown as a heroic undertaking in the name of justice, which is not strictly true. Had Gore won, there is no way anybody on the blue side would care, instead they would play the same role as the Republicans: obstruction of recounting votes.

    However, even if it is somewhat biased, the film is definitely riveting. Portrayed in a pseudo-documentary style, Recount walks the audience through the events surrounding the recount and ensuing court cases. Never getting bogged down in the minutia and managing to stay light and entertainment in spite of its heavy subject matter. Unfortunately, in the process of walking through everything, the film's commitment to details and a somewhat fractured flow each time a new character or plot point is introduced leads the film to feeling like a re-enactment and not a film. While the acting is largely good, it never allows the actors to disappear into their characters, instead leaving them as obvious portrayals and representations of the people so deeply involved with the recount. This somewhat limited and restricted feeling is what makes the film feel so slight at the end, an element hardly benefited by the film's status as a made-for-TV work.
    Full Review »
  2. BobC.
    Jun 11, 2008
    If this movie isn't at least a 9, I don't know what is. What a professional reenactment of a chilling, stupid, funny, serious and If this movie isn't at least a 9, I don't know what is. What a professional reenactment of a chilling, stupid, funny, serious and scary incident. G. W. was crowned and the world knows how THAT panned out. Great cast, great direction, great script. Full Review »
  3. ElliottM.
    Jun 1, 2008
    Annoying acted and very poorly written. I'm as irked as the next person about the 2000 election debacle, but this is pathetic.