Fine Line Features | Release Date: August 16, 1996 CRITIC SCORE DISTRIBUTION
Mixed or average reviews based on 23 Critic Reviews
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Though the music is helping market the movie, it's really an omnipresent backdrop to the two intersecting stories. Audibly and visibly, Kansas City nearly equals Ed Wood for period verisimilitude. Yet it's also character-driven, in particular by the women stars. [16 Aug 1996, p.4D]
Although there's nominally a lot of action, the film doesn't exactly abound in narrative pulse. But its portraits and textures take up a lot of the slack. [16 Aug 1996, p.D5]
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)Mark Miller
Time and again, the story simply stops for another tune from the band. Then again, without the buoyant sounds of Moten Swing, Tickle Toe, Yeah Man and the rest, Kansas City would be an even less appealing film than it already is. [16 Aug 1996, p.D5]
New Orleans Times-PicayuneDavid Baron
This period gangster neither in the front rank nor the slag heap of Altman's oeuvre. Rather, it's an atypically accessible attempt at mainstream entertainment that contains both satisfying and off-putting elements. [16 Aug 1996, p.L24]
It's an obviously personal work, and that's both its primary strength and weakness: The movie has a distinct, carefully detailed sense of place and time, but it's also not as involving as Altman seems to think it is. It's thick on atmosphere, but short on plot. [16 Aug 1996, p.6G]
The Hollywood ReporterDuane Byrge
It's not a trip of ''Nashville'' sweep. In fact, it's closer to Dullsville. [13 May 1996]
Philadelphia InquirerDan DeLuca
Robert Altman's Kansas City is a hollow period piece, a costume melodrama that's all jazzed up without a story to tell. [16 Aug 1996, p.4]
Jazz is a good metaphor for Robert Altman's movies they're often improvisational, free-form and full of unexpected dissonance. Unfortunately, his movies also fall prey to the hazards of jazz they can be boring, screechy and endless. Thus, Kansas City. [16 Aug 1996, p.49]