Critic Reviews



Based on 17 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
CBGB has more of the original prankish punk spirit than it even recognizes.
Rickman is too theatrical, and too British, to vanish entirely into the person of Hilly Kristal. But he's entertaining to watch, and ultimately one of the more persuasive actors in a movie that suffers from as many odd casting decisions as Lee Daniels' The Butler.
You can't help feeling as if Miller has missed an opportunity. Punk rock was all about manic energy, unbridled (and often unfocused) passion. CBGB plays more like a folk tale.
Alan Rickman's lead performance highlights a sincere but insubstantial rock pic.
Punk may not be dead, but this picture is D.O.A.
As a film, the result is static, like Ang Lee's similarly muddled “Taking Woodstock.”
The absolute antithesis to the pioneering punk spirit it tries to portray.
In its stylistically flailing stab at authenticity, CBGB ends up merely a mess of caricatures.
No doubt a decent movie could have been made about the behind-the-scenes life of CBGB, but CBGB isn't it. It's as flip about the club as it is about Kristal, the music, and the time and place that shaped it all.
As the film moves from one musical performance to another, the result increasingly feels like a series of celebrity impersonations set to a best-of-punk compilation album.
The most distressing bad choice in CBGB, a movie entirely composed from them, is that those brilliant songs are repurposed studio recordings.
Director Randall Miller (“Bottle Shock”) could do worse than render the early-'70s punk scene as breezy broad comedy. He adopts that tactic and still falters though, deflating any energy or humor possible with his limp direction, sitcom consistency, and unfocused tone.
CBGB ain't no party, it ain't no disco, it ain't no foolin' around. It also isn't authentic for a second, and it provides zero insight into the birth of the New York City punk scene in the 1970s.
CBGB's biggest problem is that it's taken such electrifying source material and done absolutely zilch with it.
The film strives to cinematically reanimate that shabby underground lair; instead, it proves to be the most bastardized souvenir bauble of all.

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