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Burn After Reading
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Burn After Reading More at IMDbPro »

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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A better title: Burn Before Viewing.

Author: adamzad from BP, CA, USA
27 December 2008

This movie made no sense. It was a rambling, disjointed farce of movie-making. Fourteen sub-plots in search of a story. It's too late for me, but you can still save yourself the two hours of your life that you could spend watching a GOOD movie. Better yet, read a book.

Since IMDb insists I have at least 10 lines of text, here are a few more comments:

Avoid this movie at all costs.

Spend the money you'd spend renting or buying this movie on Botox injections, it'll be less painful.

Remember: Burn first, THEN watch.

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9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A Little Bit Of Potential Lost In A Whole Lot Of Muddle

Author: sddavis63 ( from Durham Region, Ontario, Canada
26 January 2010

"What did we learn, Palmer?" "I don't know, sir." "I don't f...'in know either. I guess we learned not to do it again." That exchange between the head of the CIA (I guess) and one of his agents closes out this movie and about sums up my reaction to this movie. After more than an hour and a half, I don't really have a clue what happened, and I sure hope it doesn't lead to anything else!

There was some potential, and I confess that I really did chuckle a few times at some of the ridiculous situations that were portrayed, but overall this whole thing was a muddle of those ridiculous situations. The basic premise seemed to be promising. An ex-intelligence officer leaves a disc with what appears to be classified information on it at the gym after a workout. It's found and two employees - Linda and Chad (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt) - decide to use it to make some money to help Linda pay for some cosmetic surgery she wants. It almost sounds like it could have been a slapstick sort of semi-spy caper, but it just didn't seem to work. The attempts to get laughs out of the viewer seemed too forced - everyone seemed to be trying too hard to be funny, but humour needs to flow more naturally to be truly funny. Of all the cast, the only one I really enjoyed watching was Brad Pitt, who was cast a bit against type. He's a sort of gay-like (because that was never really spelled out but seemed implied) fitness coach. Other than that, I was quite underwhelmed by everyone and everything. 2/10

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9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Can I have my $5 back???

Author: chatterbox229 from United States
7 February 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I watched this with my daughter.

We were bored out of our minds, although about halfway through, we were starting to like the character portrayals. Next thing we know... ***POP*** George Clooney ices the stupid jock character played by Brad Pitt.

My daughter summed this movie up best: "It was OK until they killed Brad Pitt's character. He was kind of like the dumb kid... cute but dumb. When he died, it was a total turn off. Everyone knows you don't kill the stupid kid. All this movie was is gratuitous killing and people randomly yelling "Fuck". There was nothing funny about it."

Personally, I can't believe I wasted $5 watching this piece of crap. I expected better.

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10 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Burn After Watching

Author: texaskicker2004 from United States
26 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie was terrible. I'm baffled that it was nominated for two Golden Globe's. You would think with a cast like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and John Malkovich that it wouldn't suck so bad, but it did. When I saw the preview I thought that this was a must see, the preview was very misleading. There was not one funny scene or even a funny line in this "comedy". I guess the writers thought that if they put enough F-bombs in the movie that it would make someone laugh. Or if they made a movie that had absolutely no plot and no organization but did things like kill off the entire cast just because that people would like it. I would go as far to say that this is the worst movie I have ever seen. Do yourself a favor and don't waste your time or money on this one.

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11 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

"So, what have we learned?" well, the Coens know convoluted/cracked comedy for one

Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
13 September 2008

And casting, let's not forget that. The Coen brothers, usually writing with specific actors in mind, have placed some of Hollywood's biggest and some of the plain best actors around in parts in Burn After Reading that test them to how far they can take the material before it spontaneously combusts. Maybe it does. While their film does start a little slow, if not too much so, their plot soon requires all of the actors- some Coen regulars big and small, some new- to act stupid, angry, confused, wacko, desperate, going nuts, and generally in characteristic form of a Coen comedy, which is far and beyond a distinct step above a lot of other zany/dark comedies. Thankfully, they all meet the challenge.

Burn After Reading is about as convoluted as Alfred Hitchcock lost in a jungle-jim screaming for Mommy while the spiked edges of the metal scrape his noggin. And like Hitchcock, they use star George Clooney for great use as their own quasi-Cary Grant (a friend mentioned that Grant never died, he just became Clooney) as a treasury agent who is having not only an affair with a (now) ex-analyst John Malkovich's wife Tilda Swinton, but with internet-date seeker Frances McDormand. And yet, this is just a small part of the screwy-relationships angle of the picture that unfolds, which includes divorce and not-secret longing and even a home-built chair with a springy dildo.

The Coens main concern here, as with Big Lebowski, is just tossing in a plot thread that is about as true a MacGuffin as possible: Malkovich's ex-analyst character starts up his memoirs, and they somehow get on a disc and wind up in the gym locker room at the Hardbodies fitness center, and McDormand and Brad Pitt's dim-witted "good Samaritan" character devise a scheme to muck with Malkovich's documents. From here it becomes a "cluter-fuck" as one character says (or maybe more than one), and there's a string of paranoia running throughout for Clooney, McDormand, and even Malkovich. And without spoiling anything, mayhem and violence ensue.

That last line could also apply to the Coens previous No Country for Old Men, only this time (and not-too-oddly enough this was written off-and-on while that written), in Burn After Reading we soak up all of this with a kind of permission-slip to laugh our heads off. Sometimes it's very dark and nihilistic, and just darn right unexpected- one death especially had me and everyone I was seeing the movie with slack-jawed for a few seconds before suddenly going hysteric for five minutes- but it never really strays from being true to the wacky formula the Coens are used to. This doesn't mean every second will be totally crazy like Raising Arizona, but as it builds it becomes clear it's one of the best of the brothers' comedies, loaded with inspired and cleverly insipid dialog (once again Clooney's character, as in O'Brother, has one certain obsession-tic), and some fine outrageousness. Did I also mention its the funniest work Pitt's done in who knows how long, or that you'll have to stay through the end credits just to be able to laugh at the song?

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15 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Probably the only person here who thought it was crap...

Author: Burton Yan from United Kingdom
2 November 2008

After some thought I have decided to give this film a 4, bearing in mind that whilst I have never reviewed a film before I would say that I am very generous person with points, therefore I am even more surprised how nearly no one had decided to criticise this film as it was. Frankly, I would have thought the average points on here would have about 4-5, to see that it got a 7.7 was shocking, to say the least.

The high score given here was the main reason why I went to see the film in the first place, little did I know that it was another one of those artsy fartsy films that certain people (probably those who would actually bother to leave a score) would rate it highly, which is exactly why I too decided to rate this film because I want to give this film the score it really deserves.

Immediately I noticed the similarity with 'The Big Labowski' and guessed that they were probably by the same writer. I never had the chance to finish 'The Big Labowski' mainly because I fell asleep after roughly half an hour of it. Honestly, who finds watching a sad ass loser living out his crappy life funny? Not to mention entertaining! This film and 'The Big Labowski' together are easily some of the worst comedies I have ever seen in my life, both films had showed no end of complete pointlessness and stupidity blown out of all proportion, with ridiculous story lines, though I am less sure about 'The Big Lebowski' because I didn't actually finish, and having sat through another film (and fighting to stay awake through some parts of it) by the same writer I am not sure that I want to.

Now, back to the film, I will try to analyse without giving away too much of the storyline. It is essentially a string of completely random story that is somehow connected and intertwined, an exploration of the famous six degrees of separation if you will (though a study by MS on msn found it was more like 7), a clever thing to write, true, but the way it was conveyed doesn't do this type of story justice, if you want to see lives intermingle, then watch 'Car Crash' or something. If you are looking to have a good laugh, well, you are much better off looking elsewhere, whilst there were the odd funny moments it is far from being funny enough to keep you entertained, which isn't helped by the severe lack of a realistic storyline, it becomes more believable as the story evolve, with people feeling the pressure and starting to break down, still it was like Alice went to wonderland without following the rabbit, it doesn't connect and thus makes no sense. A recent film that I had seen, 'Ghost Town' was far funnier.

It lacked any big idea, you can argue that it's about human nature but the film's portrays humanity in such a way that it assumes all men (and women)are evil/selfish, an overly pessimistic view of life, I am surprised how the Coens brother haven't yet committed suicide if that was what they thought of the world.

What surprised me even more, though, was the long list of brilliant actors, truth be told they did a tremendous job making the funny moments... well, funny. I think the only reason why they signed up to the film was because it was written by the Coens brothers, who seems to have had a long list of highly rated films.

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16 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Adults only?... I think NOT!!

Author: frodolives0102-1 from United States
30 September 2008

I have read several reviews, and I was amazed at one in particular. That one review focused on how only adults would be able to grasp the significance and beauty of the film as a film. I completely and utterly disagree. I am, what some would call, a child. I am sixteen years old. Not old enough to even see the movie alone, though I did. I loved the movie, the humor, as is the case with all Coen brother movies, was indeed dark. The story had a wonderful arch. It was simply well made and well acted. Though i would have to say, from the perspective of an actor, John Malchovich's character seemed to have nowhere to go. It reached the zenith in the first scene. Yes he was a misanthropic, smart-ass, jerk, for lack of a better word, but his anger peaked then had nowhere to go but down. So anyone who still believes that only an adult audience member could even understand or enjoy this film, think again.

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17 out of 32 people found the following review useful:


Author: weightgain4000-1 from Auckland
5 December 2009

Is it just me or do movies just not make sense anymore

What did the scene of the T.V room with Elizabeth Marvel - Sandy Pfarrer have anything to do with the movie????

Apart from the confusing script and over obvious jokes and clique's I felt for the actors in this farce of mass entertainment madness as they performed to the highest standard and did their best to accommodate yet and another junker straight out Hollywood's trash bin

Best and only good line in movie

"You tell Dr Cox I have the new keys!" (John Malkovich - Osbourne Cox)

Great actors Good Budget Poor Script


" I cannot stand idly by while bad films go un-reviewed " Weightgain4000

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20 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

not their best but still very funny

Author: Roland E. Zwick ( from United States
13 September 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Burn After Reading" shows what happens when a couple of bungling amateurs attempt to beat the big boys of the C.I.A. at their own game.

Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand are the D.C.-based health club workers who stumble across a computer disc that they believe contains top secret, classified information. In actuality, it's the property of Osbourne Cox, a C.I.A. analyst who has recently been let go from the agency, and who is composing his memoirs as an act of retaliation against his former bosses. Tilda Swinton plays Osbourne's harridan wife who's having an affair with a tic-plagued, exercise-obsessed married man embodied by George Clooney. The discovery of the disc leads to a roundelay of false assumptions and comical misunderstandings all wrapped up in an intricately plotted scenario dripping with situational ironies.

"Burn After Reading" is Joel and Ethan Coen's darkly humorous follow-up to their Oscar-winning masterpiece, "No Country for Old Men," a grimly serious work that took little time out for comic relief (and earned them bucket loads of awards for doing so). This new film finds the boys back in the more familiar terrain of "Fargo" and "The Big Lebowski," where the laughs outnumber the gasps by a healthy margin. "Burn After Reading" certainly adheres to the customary Coen Brothers formula where a heightened quirkiness and a deliberately disjointed storyline are coupled with sudden flare-ups of violence and the unexpected deaths of major characters.

While the refusal to follow a predictable narrative path is one of the chief selling points of any Coen Brothers film, the fact of the matter is that, in the case of "Burn After Reading," the script probably could have used a few more revisions to bring the disparate elements more satisfactorily in line with one another. Too often it feels as if the movie itself is rambling around pointlessly, without any clear direction or purpose. For one thing, many of the scenes that might have served as the connecting tissue holding the various story lines together seem to have been - perhaps deliberately - left on the cutting-room floor. We're laughing along with the craziness all right, but we're also hoping against hope that the filmmakers will find a way to bring it all together in the end. Instead, what we get is a sit-down synopsis of events that is probably the least successful finale of that sort since the closing scene in "Psycho." For if viewers think they were frustrated by the truncated ending in "No Country," they ain't seen nuttin' yet.

The best thing about "Burn After Reading" is the delicious performances from a cast that any director would give his eyeteeth to work with. Malkovich, McDormand, Clooney, and Swinton all manage to define their characters through individualized quirks without ever going over the top and reducing their characters to caricatures. But it is Pitt who steals every scene he's in as the nerdy, hyper kinetic doofus who fancies himself a double-naught spy fit to stand alongside the James Bonds of the world. Pitt has rarely been this winning.

Now don't get me wrong. "Burn After Reading" is a frequently hilarious film that is vastly preferable to all those cookie-cutter comedies that can be found habitually ensconced in the neighborhood multiplexes. But it's not exactly prime Coen Brothers either, and, for that reason, I have to make this only a halfhearted recommendation. But, then again, even inferior Coen Brothers is better than no Coen Brothers at all.

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21 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Stupid people do stupid things and get in over their head. Yup, it's a Coen film.

Author: Awakening124 from United States
12 September 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

-MINOR and VAGUE spoilers-

Burn After Reading is Fargo without the snow and wood chipper. Someone stupid does something stupid and gets other people killed for absolutely NO reason, and it all leads to a literally non-existent ending. Even though the ride has it's high points and keeps you interested, it goes positively nowhere, leaving the viewer with a well-that-was-fun-but-pointless feeling. Even a character in the MOVIE said that nobody learned anything. But wait, it's a Coen brothers film, which means it must be gold.

If you're a Coen brother fan, you probably won't be disappointed. If you're not, Burn After Reading will not convert you.

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