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Burn After Reading (2008)

7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 203,680 users   Metascore: 63/100
Reviews: 527 user | 327 critic | 37 from Metacritic.com

A disk containing the memoirs of a CIA agent ends up in the hands of two unscrupulous gym employees who attempt to sell it.

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Title: Burn After Reading (2008)

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Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 4 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Ted
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CIA Superior (as JK Simmons)
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J.R. Horne ...
Divorce Lawyer (as JR Horne)
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Storyline

Osbourne Cox, a Balkan expert, is fired at the CIA, so he begins a memoir. His wife wants a divorce and expects her lover, Harry, a philandering State Department marshal, to leave his wife. A diskette falls out of a gym bag at a Georgetown fitness center. Two employees there try to turn it into cash: Linda, who wants money for elective surgery, and Chad, an amiable goof. Information on the disc leads them to Osbourne who rejects their sales pitch; then they visit the Russian embassy. To sweeten the pot, they decide they need more of Osbourne's secrets. Meanwhile, Linda's boss likes her, and Harry's wife leaves for a book tour. All roads lead to Osbourne's house. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

memoir | gym | cia | embassy | divorce | See more »

Taglines:

Intelligence is only their job. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

12 September 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Quémese después de leerse  »

Box Office

Budget:

$37,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£2,045,565 (UK) (17 October 2008)

Gross:

$60,338,891 (USA) (19 December 2008)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joel Coen:  [The Films of Stanley Kubrick]  The sound emitted by the homing scanner from Bowman's space pod in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is heard in the opening titles. Harry Pfarrer's house number is 114, a nod to Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). Linda Litzke refers to her "Mickey Mouse H.M.O." provided by Hardbodies, a nod to Full Metal Jacket (1987). See more »

Goofs

The CIA Supervisor states that Venezuela does not have an extradition treaty with the US. Venezuela has had a bilateral extradition treaty with the US since 1923. See more »

Quotes

Harry Pfarrer: Go around the corner, we'll do it in the back.
Katie Cox: You're so coarse.
Harry Pfarrer: Back of the car... not the... rear-entry situation...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Cort Hessler's name appears twice. He was a Stunt Driver on the film. See more »

Connections

References Double Indemnity (1944) See more »

Soundtracks

All You Need
Written by Paul Adelstein
Performed by Doris
Courtesy of Kick-Off Rally Songs Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Stupidity goes before intelligence?
21 April 2009 | by (Trondheim, Norway) – See all my reviews

Joel and Ethan Coen's thirteenth film is a return to their quirky lullabies after 2007's Best Picture winning grand work 'No Country for Old Men'. 'Burn After Reading' stars Frances McDormand as Linda and Brad Pitt as Chad, both fairly dumb gym-trainees who're in possession of a disk containing some valuable and hopefully juicy memoirs from a recently fired CIA-agent Osbourne Cox, played by John Malkovich. They want to blackmail him so they can get money for her plastic surgery operations. Meanwhile Malkovich's wife Katie, (played by Tilda Swinton) is secretly dating internet-cruiser Harry (George Clooney) who's also cheating on his spouse, and is cheating on Katie again with exactly Linda.

It's adultery, it's espionage-light, it's body before brains, and it's a cynical view of America. How seriously cynical it is is another question, but for me not a very important one. The story is mainly pieced together by good performances in classic Coen-roles, especially Malkovich who's mainly pi**ed-off and actually the most professional in the whole film; Brad Pitt doesn't add much substance but he adds belly laughs with iPod, bicycle and a bleeding nose; McDormand has great body language as she does everything in her power to fix her nose, belly, breasts and bum; Swinton is cool, cold and clutching between her two parallel lives, and Clooney makes mostly weird grimaces as a ladies' man, and adds paranoia to the whole "soon-they'll-know-where-you-are-at-any-give-time" CIA stupidity. 'Burn After Reading' is Coen-lite, but Coen lite is way better than most American stuff out there. J.K. Simmons as CIA-superior gives some fine dialog throughout his brief appearance as; "Report back to me when it makes sense", and "I'm fu**ed if I know what we did" - pretty insightful actually.


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

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How many times did you laugh? Eric_Thompsan
How Stupid Do the Coens Think We Are? giarmomatthew
What don't people like about this movie? blueirony
What happened to Brad Pitt's body? jimmyjameson8
Is Osborne Cox the biggest a-hole in movie history? trivial_matt
Any other teenagers like this? billyfws
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