Comedy / Drama

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 58% · 38 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 65% · 5K ratings
IMDb Rating 5.8/10 10 10465 10.5K


Top cast

Meg Ryan as Bonnie
Anna Paquin as Donna
Robin Wright as Darlene
Kevin Spacey as Mickey
1.1 GB
English 2.0
25 fps
2 hr 2 min
Seeds 7

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Quinoa1984 5 / 10

a movie full of itself, which would be fine except...

Hurlyburly is filled with characters whose vices are so thick that we're made to think we care for them despite everything. But the thing is, most of these guys, with some exceptions in scenes, they're without redeeming characteristics. The film might be a fine anti-Cocaine ad, to be sure, as there's barely a scene where someone isn't snuffing up the nose (it was filmed in 1998 but written back in the early 80's, which makes just a little more sense), but as far as giving any thing close to a (bleep) about these guys is tough. And I know that's not the main goal, I know it's not. We're meant to wallow in with these men who have all of this time to luxuriate in bulls*** and do their drugs and screw around with girls like Anna Paquin (who, I did like, is never identified by age making it all the more questionable), and how they are at best misogynistic and at worst... well, SVU handles guys like these sometimes pretty well.

Perhaps the intention in David Rabe's script, and certainly I could see it being that for the stage where it was originally done, is that they're in a nihilistic circle of their own making, filled with drug- laden anecdotes and partying and screwing around and all that stuff that Hollywood people "do" (and hey, it's the world by Mulholland drive so it's that kind of terrain), and they're just trying to get by each their own way. But it's how characters speak that becomes uneven. Sean Penn's Eddie is a paranoid mess who is fine for a few minutes when we see him clean and sober, and then right back to being a dick as soon as he's back on the powder. Kevin Spacey's Nicky seems more cool-headed and rational, but is so vindictive that, perhaps comparatively, comes off best but among the real world still fails at humanity (maybe by default). And Phil, that's a whole other ball of wax, a man so neurotic he makes Woody Allen characters look like the Beaver Cleavers.

The women are a little more of a mixed lot, with Darlene (Robin Wright Penn, not too oddly enough Sean's wife) the most sane and clear-headed and rational. It's mostly in Hurlyburly a question of being so thick into the muck of decay that it just becomes self-indulgent. And the way characters speak tends to go on and on, mostly with a guy like Phil who just has too many words up his sleeve for someone who should have more of an instinctual, guttural way of talking like a primitive beast. It's not the talk of movie people but theater, and that's one of the big slip ups here, and not an uncommon one with adaptations which is to not have the right tone for the screen. Sometimes the dialog can be agreeable, maybe close to funny (the scene where Phil throws Meg Ryan's character out of the car, and what leads up to it, is amazing). But too much of it is over-loaded with language.

The acting should be what saves it. Sometimes it does. I mean, look who is over here after all, Oscar winners and other notables. But when Garry Shandling ends up really taking the acting prize (and most notably with a scene where he talks with Penn through a glass table) you know there's something not quite right. Spacey is fine but he could do this part in his sleep; more curious would've been to see Christopher Walken, who originated the role on Broadway, in the role as it would've been so unusual for him. Penn has his moments where he connects emotionally, but the rest of it is in such predictable ham-bone mode that it becomes laughable; most excruciating is a scene where he keeps begging Meg Ryan for a BJ, and it gets to a point where Tommy Wiseau would be needed as a dramatic stand-in. You're tearing me apart, movie!

Palminteri seems the most mis-cast though; I never really believed much of what he was saying, and only once or twice did it look like he was even slightly well-off in the role. He keeps on making these things with how he speaks (though it might be akin to how Phil talks) and it's just odd and embarrassing, considering that the man can act in the right role, usually in urban street-wise stuff. A neurotic is not for him, and he has to play one to such a psychotic extent and looks a little dumbfounded in some scenes why he's even there! And it's not all on the director's fault, at least, maybe, I wouldn't think so entirely. He does keep some scenes moving along to try and bring some cinematic quality to it. But when it stalls into its theater-setting, it shows.

I don't want to be too hard on the movie, and yet it's tough when there's such high stakes: a dynamite cast, a drug-fueled set-up that allows for so much potential drama. The results should be fantastic. And instead it's the kind of hot-headed pretentious bally-hoo that makes people hate Hollywood people: they're heads are so far up their asses they don't know where the sun shines anymore.

Reviewed by Jaturday 7 / 10

An Underrated and Relatively Unknown Film

I remember watching Sean Penn walking up to the podium, accepting his Best Actor Academy Award for his (in my opinion) decent and somewhat accomplished role in Mystic River, and thought to myself the award was more of an achievement for his body of work rather than for the particular film. His role in Hurlyburly is far more impressive than the Jersey-speaking gangster in Great Clint's emotional waterfall of a film. I've always been a fan of Hurlyburly since seeing a heavily edited version of it for the first time on UPN years ago, mainly for its writing and acting performances. The entire ensemble is wonderful - Penn, Spacey, and Palminteri especially - and the writing is believable and clear cut, even though I've never met or been exposed to anyone even close to characters like the ones depicted in the film. The low rating on IMDb surprised me, but maybe I can see why the majority of people either don't like or are rather indifferent about the film. The film-making is not ground breaking by any means, but the content and passion exuded from the actors involved stand out amongst other films like it that heavily rely on idiosyncratic and interesting dialogue. I'd like to see Rabe's stage version to see how he nails it - because the movie is a treat for anyone who enjoys a dose of something a bit off-beat and different.

Reviewed by Eagle1-6 7 / 10

You'll either love it or hate it

This is definitely not a movie for everyone. Heavy drug use, discomfiting sexual situations, bad language, violence, a talky, "stagey" atmosphere, and generally despicable characters. Even if you like the actors involved, this may still not be the movie for you (my aunt rented it for my uncle and herself on the strength of Kevin Spacey's name, and he still hasn't forgiven her).

Having said that, I really liked this movie. I never saw the play, but when I read through it, I thought it was the most misogynistic piece of garbage I had ever encountered. Seeing it on screen, though, was a completely different experience. I felt that I understood what the playwright was trying to get at: namely, that this is a piece about how "Eddie, through the death of Phil, is saved from being Mickey." In short, a spiritual redemption of sorts.

Performances are uniformly strong. I have never been a big Sean Penn fan, but I thought he did a more than competent job with Eddie, particularly in the later scenes where he veers between arrogance and pathos. Kevin Spacey seemed uncomfortable with some aspects of the dialogue (i.e. "blah blah blah" etc.), but otherwise did his usual masterful job, in a role which raises the same questions that many of us would like to ask of him.

The role of Donna was, I felt, disfigured by the many cuts in the script--she is more of a victim than a wanton, IMHO--thus, the best thing I can say about Anna Paquin's performance is that she did well with what she was given. I had no strong objections to any of the other casting choices, except for Meg Ryan as Bonnie, who apparently cannot even play a stripper without resorting to her usual cutesy mannerisms.

FWIW, I liked the director's technical choice of "opening" the scenes by putting the conversations on cell phones, etc. However, I would have willingly sacrificed some of the added dialogue for some of the original lines that got cut. Final analysis: I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and plan to buy it when it comes out on video,

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