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Burn After Reading (2008)

R  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Drama  |  12 September 2008 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 234,673 users   Metascore: 63/100
Reviews: 539 user | 334 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 & 22 nominations. See more awards »



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


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 All (137) »


Intelligence is only their job. See more »


Comedy | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

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Release Date:

12 September 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Quémese después de leerse  »

Box Office


$37,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$19,128,001 (USA) (12 September 2008)


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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Tilda Swinton modeled her character's hairdo after Edna Krabappel's from The Simpsons (1989). See more »


When Harry is out running the sweat mark nearly covers the entire back of his shirt. When he walks into the house after his run the mark is much smaller. See more »


Chad Feldheimer: Manolo, you DIDN'T find this.
Manolo: I found it on the floor there.
Chad Feldheimer: Yeah, I know. But...
Manolo: Right there on the floor there. Just lying there.
See more »

Crazy Credits

As usual, the Coen Brothers edited this film under the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes See more »


References Cool Hand Luke (1967) See more »


Pictures At An Exhibition Promenade
Written by Modest Mussorgsky
Performed by Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra
Courtesy of Naxos Of America
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Very funny adult comedy
14 September 2008 | by (Phoenix, AZ) – See all my reviews

The point here is that this movie is for adults, with adult themes and adult situations. As with all Coen brother movies, there are going to be people who love it and people that hate it. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground. I loved this movie. It was entertaining, dark and very funny. I really liked "No Country for Old Men" but I have to say, "Burn After Reading" was a more enjoyable film for me. Some of the reviews here have said that the film rambles around pointlessly, without any clear direction; well I have to disagree, if you are paying attention and you are an adult, you should have no problem understanding what is going on. The best part of the movie is watching this great cast perform brilliantly with the odd-ball material they are given. They are all straight men for the Coen brother's antics. There is violence, bad language, and everyone is sleeping with everyone else, especially George Clooney. But the movie is very funny and while the rest of Hollywood seems to have lost there way, the Coen brothers continue to put out intelligent, entertaining and thought provoking material.

245 of 409 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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