Up 931 this week

Hurlyburly (1998)

 -  Comedy | Drama  -  25 December 1998 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 5.8/10 from 8,495 users  
Reviews: 179 user | 58 critic

Hollywood movers and shakers dissect their own personal lives when everything seems to clash together.



(play), (screenplay)
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Editors' Spotlight

IMDb: What to Watch - Guardians of the Galaxy

In the latest episode of IMDb: What to Watch, Keith Simanton talks with director James Gunn and actors Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Vin Diesel about their movie Guardians of the Galaxy.

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 26 titles
created 12 Sep 2011
a list of 25 titles
created 28 Jan 2013
a list of 23 titles
created 10 Mar 2013
a list of 24 titles
created 9 months ago

Related Items

Search for "Hurlyburly" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Hurlyburly (1998)

Hurlyburly (1998) on IMDb 5.8/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Hurlyburly.
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Two veteran salesman dissect a sales pitch to a particular client, through their young protege.

Director: John Swanbeck
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, Peter Facinelli
Happiness (1998)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The lives of many individuals connected by the desire for happiness, often from sources usually considered dark or evil.

Director: Todd Solondz
Stars: Jane Adams, Jon Lovitz, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An estranged family of former child prodigies reunites when their father announces he is terminally ill.

Director: Wes Anderson
Stars: Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anjelica Huston
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A young man's peculiar upbringing renders him unable to competently cope with the struggle of growing up.

Director: Burr Steers
Stars: Kieran Culkin, Susan Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum
Election (1999)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A high school teacher's personal life becomes complicated as he works with students during the school elections.

Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein
Swingers (1996)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Wannabe actors become regulars in the stylish neo-lounge scene; Trent teaches his friend Mike the unwritten rules of the scene.

Director: Doug Liman
Stars: Vince Vaughn, Heather Graham, Jon Favreau
About Schmidt (2002)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A man upon retirement embarks on a journey to his estranged daughter's wedding only to discover more about himself and life than he ever expected.

Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney
Wag the Dog (1997)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Shortly before an election, a spin-doctor and a Hollywood producer join efforts to fabricate a war in order to cover up a presidential sex scandal.

Director: Barry Levinson
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, Anne Heche
Celebrity (1998)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The fortunes of a husband and wife differ drastically after they divorce.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Judy Davis, Leonardo DiCaprio
Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In Mexico, two teenage boys and an attractive older woman embark on a road trip and learn a thing or two about life, friendship, sex, and each other.

Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Stars: Maribel Verdú, Gael García Bernal, Daniel Giménez Cacho
Ghost World (2001)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

With only the plan of moving in together after high school, two unusually devious friends seek direction in life. As a mere gag, they respond to a man's newspaper ad for a date, only to find it will greatly complicate their lives.

Director: Terry Zwigoff
Stars: Steve Buscemi, Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson


Cast overview, first billed only:
Darlene (as Robin Wright Penn)
Susie (as Gianna Renaudo)
Store Manager
Kenny Vance ...
Michaline Babich ...
TV Anchor (as Elaine Corral)
TV Reporter
Frank Somerville ...
TV Anchor
Bob Jimenez ...


Hurly-burly is an adaptation of David Rabe's well known play about the intersecting lives of several Hollywood players and wannabes who's personal lives threaten to veer into a catastrophe more interesting than anything they're peddling to the studios. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for constant drug use, pervasive strong language and sexual material | See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

25 December 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ano kato  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$164,826 (USA) (25 December 1998)


$1,796,328 (USA) (2 April 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The cast of the Chicago stage premiere in 1984: William Hurt as Eddie; Christopher Walken as Mickey; Sigourney Weaver as Darlene; Harvey Keitel as Phil; Jerry Stiller as Artie; Cynthia Nixon as Donna; Judith Ivey as Bonnie. On Broadway, Ron Silver replaced Christopher Walken. See more »


When Eddie lies under the glass table while Mickey and Artie talk to him, the location (and amount) of cocaine changes between shots. See more »


Eddie: [reading Phil's letter] The guy who dies in an accident understands the nature of destiny.
See more »


Referenced in Dinner for Five: Episode #1.2 (2001) See more »


There Goes the Neighborhood
Written by Sheryl Crow, Jeff Trott
Performed by Sheryl Crow, with Sheryl Crow (clarinet/percussion), Gregg Williams (drums/programming/percussion),
Jeff Trott (guitars), Tim Smith (bass), Bobby Keys (baritone/tenor/alto sax), Michael Davis (trombone),
, Kent Smith (trumpet)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

11 December 2009 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Hurlyburly is adapted from a 1984 play by David Rabe, which is undoubtedly one of the best I have read. The stage version of the piece runs for over three hours and the entire show takes place in one location. Its life on stage has been both controversial and acclaimed. Anthony Drazan's film is brisker then the play, at a length of 122 minutes, and it is set in a variety of different places.

The film takes place in Hollywood, although Rabe argues that critics overemphasize its setting. It explores the dynamics and cyclical psychology of men, and the women who pass through their lives. The characters interact in a chaotic environment, but it is their mental lack of clarity that provides focus for the piece. Substance abuse is an important component of the film, since it enhances the nature of the dialogue.

Eddie (played by Sean Penn) can be considered the protagonist of the piece, but he doesn't serve as a spokesman for the themes. Nor does he exist as a moral compass for the story, which fluctuates between brutal animosity and moments of genuine tenderness. As Eddie says in the film, he is trying to maintain a viable relationship with reality. The tumultuous feelings and ideas he has are disconnected and elusive. Throughout the course of the movie, he comes to realize that he is a spectator of his own turbulent existence, and his paranoia intensifies.

In order to maintain some sense of personal control, Eddie reflects his own uncontrollable tendencies in his best friend Phil (Chazz Palminteri). Phil is a wild force full of violence and rage, and his vulnerability makes him more dangerous. Eddie feels that if he keeps Phil on a leash, he is somehow restraining his own tumultuous urges. This kind of indirect, cerebrally confused relationship is what lies at the core of Hurlyburly. Without some kind of analysis, the men in this film are simply drug-addled misogynists complaining about existence.

Mickey (Kevin Spacey) is a friend of Eddie's and Phil's, but he is more superficially balanced than both of them combined. Mickey delivers casual, sarcastic assaults to Phil as a way of validating his own sense of worth and importance. He confirms his own masculinity through emotionless sex and the humiliation of visibly weak people. Although Mickey is not inclined to raise his voice or inflict physical harm on people, he is arguably one of the cruelest characters in the play.

All of these men see women as a vindictive, malevolent presence in their lives, and their romantic insecurity can probably be related to issues with control. Particularly in the case of Phil and Eddie, these characters want to dominate the women they interact with, and they feel threatened when they are unable to do so. They still cling to the idea that they can own something in every sense. What they are attempting is to remedy their lack of personal understanding through controlling women.

Of course, all of these ideas are my personal interpretations of the material, but I admire any piece of writing that welcomes this kind of involvement. David Rabe's Hurlyburly is not simply a commentary on the inner-workings of Hollywood, although that may play a small role. It is one of the most intimate, challenging portrayals of men I have seen. The people occupying this story are not the sort of people you would necessarily want to befriend, but that doesn't make them unworthy of examination.

In a 1999 interview with Charlie Rose, Sean Penn said that he is interested in films that are expressive instead of impressive. Anthony Drazan's treatment of Hurlyburly is completely expressive, and its articulation deserves to be commended. Technically speaking, it's a very well-made film, with dizzying visual style and exhilarating structure.

Any work like this is obviously reliant on the actors, and Hurlyburly makes no missteps in regards to casting. Sean Penn is one of the great American actors, and I believe that this is one of his finest achievements. He played Eddie on stage before taking part in this screen treatment, and his personal understanding of the character is visible. This is a complete performance in every sense, drawing us in with broad physical alterations while also demonstrating the importance of subtlety.

As an actor, Kevin Spacey is on par with Penn, and his knowledge of the craft is evident again in this film. He also performed this part onstage in the past, and he illustrates an intuition for the style of dialogue and acting required. Chazz Palminteri is outstanding as Phil, providing us with an intimate and painfully honest portrait. All the other actors deserve mention as well – Robin Wright Penn, Garry Shandling, Anna Paquin and Meg Ryan all turn in convincing and memorable performances.

Hurlyburly asks us to spend time with flawed and occasionally despicable characters, but ignoring it on that basis is frankly closed-minded. This piece asks us to study why these people behave the way they do, and it presents us with great writing and acting to make that experience engaging. I think this is one of the best American movies of the 1990s, and it is a personal favorite.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Similar surprisingly great but not widely popular films? valchev2000
by coke heads, for coke heads boss83
Quoteable Lines vicphilanthro
Meg Ryan davidkr123
What the? subsist82
When will writers learn.... stevejacobshb
Discuss Hurlyburly (1998) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: