The Darwin Awards (2006) Poster

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Less would be best......
merklekranz8 May 2008
While quite original in it's concept of studying people who kill themselves in incredibly stupid ways, the delivery is jumbled and not as entertaining as it might have been. If you were to lose the totally unnecessary documentary film maker and the ridiculous, cartoon-like serial killer, the movie would have benefited. When it is describing one of the outrageous idiots and their stunts, the film is in high gear. Unfortunately it repeatedly bogs down and this starting and stopping ruins the whole tone of "The Darwin Awards". I recommend simply checking out the idiotic segments and skipping the rest. This would have made a superior short, but as a feature it fails, because there is too much going on at once. Less would have been best. - MERK
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Offbeat comedy movie about urban legends.
misbegotten8 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The Darwin Awards is a quirky little independent film, loosely based on the website & spin-off books cataloging the real-life stories of people who have suffered accidents caused by their own stupidity. Any individuals who are killed are posthumously given a 'Darwin Award' for improving Mankind's gene pool by removing themselves from it.

The movie stars Joseph Fiennes as a police profiler whose unfortunate tendency to faint at the sight of blood (he's phobic) causes him to get discharged from the force. Finding employment with an insurance company, he's partnered with experienced, hot-shot investigator Winona Ryder, who specialises in bizarre and unusual claims. Together the two of them travel back and forth across America, examining various strange accidents.

One of the things I liked most about this film is that the accidents that Fiennes and Ryder investigate are all based on well known urban legends, and such modern-day myths have always fascinated me. I own many books on the subject, and have enjoyed previous movies that have either used an urban legend as a starting point and then built a story around it (for example, Dead Man's Curve, When a Stranger Calls, and Lover's Lane), or have featured several legends (all three Urban Legends movies, and the anthology film Campfire Tales). Therefore, I got a huge thrill seeing several urban legends reenacted in The Darwin Awards.

Although it's an independent production, the movie has an impressive budget and features many big name stars in cameos (including Chris Penn in his last role - he died the day before the film debuted at Sundance). However it went straight to DVD, both in America and here in the UK. I suppose it's hard to market an offbeat, character-led black comedy in which most of the laughs are generated by people getting either seriously injured or killed. Personally, I liked it a lot.
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Didn't want to fast forward through ANY of this movie
fastforwardaddict11 August 2007
Choose "The Darwin Awards" if you want a relaxing afternoon or evening watching a fun film with enough laughs to make you walk away satisfied. Looking at my IMDb ID, "fastforwardaddict," you would surmise correctly that I have no patience for lame or poorly constructed movies. I fastforward through everything that is subpar. If the writing and/or the acting are bad, the DVD goes right back into the Netflix or Blockbuster sleeve. Favorite movies of mine include those that are considered by such critics as Leonard Maltin to be four star rated. I say all this because when this came out in the theatres, I read newspaper and magazine reviews that made it seem like a dud. Seems rather fishy now, because I watched this with a male who is also very hard to please and we both liked it. At the end, he said, "You picked a winner this time." One criticism I read was that there was no chemistry between Joseph Fiennes and Winona Ryder. First of all, the movie was about Fiennes truly irritating the h... out of Ryder. Haven't you ever worked with someone who drove you nuts? Well, Fiennes couldn't have played this more perfectly. I've known characters like this and he is right on the money. I also knew a character just like the one he played in "Forever Mine" and he was right on the money there, too. His facial expressions are enough in so many instances, he doesn't even have to talk. His stiff body language was absolutely suited to the character he was playing. Ryder was excellent as his co-worker. Why do you think she survived her legal and public relations' problems? Because she is a very good actress. As for the chemistry between them, that is subjective; I sensed it.

Most of the Darwin situations, i.e., what the nutty victims did, were priceless, particularly the fellow who attached the missile to his car. The actors who played the husband and wife who were nearby made those characters very believable.

The comedic writing was good. The quips between Fiennes and Ryder were great! I hardly ever watch a movie twice, but I would watch this one again just to hear them go at each other, and to watch with even more of my friends and relatives to share the lighthearted fun. Sarcastic but cute give and take in a conversation is not easy to write, but the writers succeeded here.

Fiennes's range is wide: all the way from well-acted serious films such as "Luther" and particularly, "Leo," to this light and happy, very good-for-a-Saturday-afternoon provider of laughs.
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I liked it
sta_cd16 October 2007
I had never heard of this film before I rented it so I had no expectations which is always nice. The main character is lovable and hilarious. The premise of the movie is unique as is its production. I also loved all of the cameos. This movie was good social commentary and thoroughly enjoyable. My friend and I were gut busting laughing through a lot of it. I had been told by the guy at the video store that it was too gory. This almost made me not want to watch it, but it was not at all bad. Just blood and in the context of comedy it is not gory but I might not let a kid watch it. I think if you liked Idiocracy, Hot Fuzz you would like this movie.
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Pretty darn good, unless you're somehow expecting The Film Of The Century.
minyassa27 October 2007
I watched this film "cold"--I had not heard of it before and was not expecting a comedy, per se; I truly had no expectations as someone else chose the film and I did not read the DVD cover at all, just jumped right in. That said, I thought it was fantastic. Those expecting a rip-roaring, sidesplitting gigglefest ought perhaps to have watched something intended to be so. This was funny at moments, disturbing at others, a little shallow in some places, but I sincerely doubt it was intended to be taken as deep philosophical delving despite the lead character's commentary. As for the chemistry between the leads, I agree with a previous reviewer's assessment: they were meant to irritate one another, and I thought the slow and gradual depth of the relationship was far more romantic than any of the stereotypical big-bang overnight transformations into meaningful interaction. Perhaps more people should watch films without having any clue what to expect of them. It keeps the viewer from making perhaps inappropriate demands that may or may not be met.
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Darwin Awards Delivers on Left of Center Premise
cpb-719 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
You see this movie because you've followed The Real Darwin Awards. You see it because you want to be guaranteed a laugh. It's a movie about people who do things so stupid that they die in the process. Got it? These other reviewers are reading too much into it. You want a spoiler? The rocket powered car doesn't . . . um . . . land well. The skyscraper's windows . . . uh . . . aren't really that well secured. Fido fetches everything . . . even dynamite. There is a scene in Darwin Awards with two stoned-out Metallica fans (Judah Friedlander is one) which is so laugh- out loud funny it could be spun out into its own movie.

Winona Ryder is adorable in this movie. She is the girl next door in a push-up bra. I want her to shoplift in my store and so will you after you see this movie. The cameo by the two guys from The Myth Busters is a classic. I saw it at the Berkeley premiere before Sundance and would see it again.
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Better than it's given credit for
pathighgate21 May 2007
Despite the terrible reviews this movie has garnered, it has some qualities that raise it above average and gives us something that, over all, is pretty darn good. In addition to explaining some of the more foolish acts performed by people in an entertaining way, the work attempts to give us an understanding as to why these people commit those foolish acts.

There is, in the eyes of this work, a duality of man that shifts between normal, safe and acceptable behavior and insane actions that may often lead to one's death. Throughout the movie, David Arquette's character is straining to discover what it is, exactly, that drives an otherwise normal human being to acts of profound stupidity and danger. The character's goal shifts from an attempt to discover a common profile for these people into something more personal and real.

However, the movie ultimately fails on this premise. While it does raise the question, it never bothers to give us an acceptable answer. The best it has to offer comes from Ryder's character regarding 'a maze of automatic telephone voicemails' when dealing with insurance companies. Arquette's character can't seem to come close.

Overall, the look and feel of the movie is fresh and original. While it borrows from a number of different styles that will immediately be recognized, but it brings them together in a wonderful way. In addition, the soundtrack to the movie is superb.
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Comedy Not Fit to Survive
wmjaho27 January 2006
This was a movie I was really looking forward to at Sundance. We're all familiar with the Darwin Awards, a website started by Stanford molecular biologist Wendy Northcutt to humorously recognize extremely stupid acts that lead to self-inflicted, accidental death. Northcutt's notion is that the human gene pool improves when these tragi-comic figures, who are presumably plagued by genetic stupidity, are removed from the population. Hence the Darwin Awards (

It sounds like a terrific premise for an outrageous comedy and like the rest of the audience I was licking my chops. Unfortunately, this movie was about as funny as Origin of the Species. Director Finn Taylor has made a couple of refreshingly oddball films (Dreams with the Fishes, Cherish) but The Darwin Awards fails on almost every level.

The concept was probably doomed from the outset by the decision to incorporate a bunch of award-winning events into a linear storyline, including madcap crime investigations and a little love interest. Casting Joseph Fiennes and Wynona Ryder as the leads was the second mistake, as neither of them was right for their parts (and despite their efforts, came off very flat). Follow that with writing that is simply not very clever and you have a disappointing movie.

The vignettes do include some great casting choices, including Chris Penn, Tim Blake Nelson, David Arquette and Metallica. But unfortunately, they are lost in the woeful script, and give us only the occasional funny moment.

As many have heard, actor Chris Penn was found dead at his Santa Monica home the day of the Sundance premiere. Finn Taylor had some nice words to say about Chris prior to the screening. And afterwards Winona Ryder, who had known Chris for 15 years, spoke at length about him. "He wasn't just Sean's younger brother," she said. It was a genuinely nice tribute.
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Lots of cameos
valeriech110 April 2008
The fun part was saying, "Oh, that's so-and-so" during the movie. And any movie that casts the Mythbusters as arms dealers is OK by me. I thought Ryder and Fiennes were good--but I would watch Joseph Fiennes read the Yellow Pages, so I may not be a good source. Excellent use of Ferlinghetti and Metallica as well. The murder mystery plot line was a little weak; I would have liked to see more examples of Darwin-ish behavior. All in all, it was a good way to spend 1:34 of my time, and I recommend it to anyone to watch instantly. I don't know if I would wait for it to come in the mail but as an impulse, it was good. Netflix should add more like this.
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Funny, but uneven
ArizWldcat27 January 2006
This was the coveted ticket at Sundance, apparently. We arrived 2 1/2 hours before the screening and were shocked to find that we were nearly 90th in line! We luckily got into our screening,but unfortunately, the movie was a disappointment. The cast is stellar; Joe Fiennes and Winona Ryder are the headliners, and there are many cameos, including Tim Blake Nelson and Robin Tunney, who starred in director Finn Taylor's last movie, Cherish. In addition, Chris Penn (who unfortunately passed away just the day before the premiere of this film at Sundance), Wilmer Valderrama, Alessandro Nivola, Ty Burrell, Juliette Lewis, Tom Hollander, and David Arquette were some of the other cameos included.

Joe Fiennes plays a police detective who is thrown off the squad due to his propensity to faint at the sight of blood. He and Ryder's character get together and try to find out what makes these "Darwin Award" winners tick. I am not sure that point is ever resolved in this film, which is part of the reason why it is uneven. Also, there is just no chemistry between Ryder and Fiennes. I really didn't care whether or not the two of them "got together" or not.

There are a few laughs in the film as the Award "winners" demonstrate what they did to "win." The problem is that they just didn't effectively sum up the movie. It was a little confusing. I will probably rent the DVD when it comes out so that I can see if I just missed it. Another problem is the documentary "filmmaker" who tags along. Why? He seems pointless.

All in all, we had a great time at the screening; Fiennes, Valderrama, Burrell, and Brad Hunt, as well as Finn Taylor, and the author of the book (The Darwin Awards) led the Q and A session afterward. That was the best part of the screening! My recommendation is that if you want to see a good Finn Taylor film, rent "Cherish".
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