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Burn After Reading (2008)

7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 205,298 users   Metascore: 63/100
Reviews: 529 user | 329 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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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 relative. 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

Mr. Krapotkin asks, about the CD, "PC or Mac"? Most data CD formats are readable by either type of computer, however the character could be asking in case the data is in a format readable only on one type of machine, e.g. a word processor package that exists only for the Mac. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
CIA Superior: What did we learn, Palmer?
CIA Officer: I don't know, sir.
CIA Superior: I don't fuckin' know either. I guess we learned not to do it again.
CIA Officer: Yes, sir.
CIA Superior: I'm fucked if I know what we did.
CIA Officer: Yes, sir, it's, uh, hard to say
CIA Superior: Jesus Fucking Christ.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is credit for 'The Walrus' See more »

Connections

Featured in Great Movie Mistakes (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

CIA Man
(1965)
Written by Tuli Kupferberg
Performed by The Fugs
Courtesy of Edward Sanders / Heavy Metal Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Great Movie, Full of Originality and Dark Humor
2 July 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I felt like I needed to review this movie because it has been largely misunderstood by many of the reviewers on this site. First off, this is not a movie that is going to show you everything and baby step you through the plot. (Children please leave now, this is an adult movie)

Part of the reason why I enjoyed this movie so much is because it engages you as the viewer by forcing you to consider all the event that are happening. Trying to piece all the randomness together and make sense of all the events unfolding in front of you is one of the best aspects of the movie. (shocking as it may be we are forced to use our brains!). Even though the majority of the characters appear to have nothing in common and no real relationship with each other, their true connections lie in their actions. George Clooney's invisible threads for instance touch pretty much every single character in the movie even if there is no real interaction between them. There is a deep underlying theme of betrayal and a "big brother" complex which many of the characters develop or exhibit throughout the movie.

As far as the acting goes each actor plays their role very well and I think that some viewers were disappointed because they were expecting a more developed Brad Pitt / George Clooney relationship as is the case with most of their movies. As for the humor, it lies in a darker corner underneath the character dialogue. This film makes best use of what I would like to call "situational comedy". (Like taking the "classified information" to the Russians (The embassy!) so that they could collect some sort of reward). The brief scenes with the CIA are quite amusing as they mostly sit on the sidelines throughout the movie and clean up after the mess which is left behind after the seemingly simple firing of one Mr. Cox.

I am always pleasantly surprised by how original this movie was and how it almost makes fun of all the stereotypical Hollywood bull**** that is filled with most movies today. One of the ways you can tell a movie is good is if you watch it multiple times and still find something new or amusing in the story each time.

Bottom-line: If you are looking for a story that is more than skin deep (which the Coen brother are notorious for) then you have come to the right place. For everyone else where thinking hurts your head, go watch the new Transformers Movie.

** On a side note** To the one reviewer who thinks Clooney shoots Brad out of no where, if you had actually bothered to pay attention during the movie you could see that when Clooney opens the closet the first thing he grabs for is his gun hanging on the wall. Then because of his yeeaars of service as an air marshal his training kicks in and out of instinct he shoots before he thinks. (This may be also partly due to his paranoia of being followed by spooks)


9 of 13 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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