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Opened in Theaters: Friday, December 17th, 1999

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Genre: Drama
Running Time: 3:00

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Magnolia
Academy Award® Nominee
On one random day in the San Fernando Valley, a dying father, a young wife, a male caretaker, a famous lost son, a police officer in love, a boy genius, an ex-boy genius, a game show host and an...  View more >

R
strong language, drug use, sexuality and some violence

Starring Jason Robards, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman...  View more >

Oscar® Nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Tom Cruise) and Original Screenplay
View more information about this movie >

Reviews Summary

Rating # %  
See Now!  10 48 See Now! Percent
Good  1 5 Good Percent
Wait for Rental  1 5 Wait Percent
Stay Away!  9 43 Stay Away! Percent
21 Total Reviews

Looking for more opinions?

Check out our Featured Movie Reviews for Magnolia.

Please Note: Reader Reviews are submitted by the readers of The BigScreen Cinema Guide and represent their own personal opinions regarding this movie, and do not represent the views of The BigScreen Cinema Guide, or any of its associated entities.

[--- Stay Away! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
An interesting study of human behavior, but way, way, way too long! I found myself checking my watch more and more the longer this movie went on.

There are some interesting parts, but wait until it's out on video -- your couch will be a much more comfortable place to settle in for the long haul. And make sure you have plenty of food and drinks!

[--- Stay Away! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
This movie was just awful. I couldn't believe that Tom Cruise would play such a part, and thought he must be having problems finding work. After about the first hour (of three) I wished it would just end. This movie ranks right down there with Blair Witch, Mr. Ripley and Being John Malkovich. There should be a special category for movies like these, something like "art for the artless". Stay away.

[--- Stay Away! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
best comment from fellow viewer upon leaving the theater,

I WANT MY MONEY BACK !!!

[--- Stay Away! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
We really wanted to see "The Green Mile", but it was sold out. Magolia was the only other movie with a similar starting time... now I know why. Nobody who has any intelligence at all would WANT to go to this movie if any other were available. The was voluminous (as in lots, and maybe in "loud", too) use of the "F" word throughout this movie. As the movie moved into the first twenty to thirty minutes of the "plot(s)", I kept waiting for a common thread to draw them all together. It seems the only commonality was the vulgar dialogue. Now lest you think I'm a prude, let me dispell that notion by saying I see nothing wrong with profanity when it serves a purpose in the character... This movie serves no purpose other than to empty a bit of green from your wallet or purse... STAY AWAY from this one!!

[--- Stay Away! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
This is the first time I felt compelled to submit a review. My comments can be summed up in four words..."Stupid, stupid, stupid stupid!"

[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
Magnolia is in one word OUTSTANDING! My favorite film of 1999. I loved it from start to end. The characters's lives, acting skills and movie theme would have kept me in the theater for another hour. I wanted to know more about what happened to each of the character's, even after the movie ended. My vote for best picture in the Oscar campaign.

[--- Wait for Rental ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
WARNING! If you have suicidal tendencies, stay away from this film!

The director drags you through 3 hours of seemingly endless misery as viewers are introduced to one pathetic character after another.

By the end of the film, the audience (or at least, what little was left of it) was actually routing for the film's characters to kill themselves.

I wish I could find one positive comment to say about this film, aside from the fact that it does eventually end (and we do get to see Tom Cruise in his underwear), however the director seemed overly determined to pull viewer's into the same dismal world he introduced in Boogie Nights. Apparently, focusing on the lives of extremely miserable, misguided indiduals is the only way the director knows to get his message across.

Critics are praising the film, but I find it difficult to subscribe to the belief that anything positive can come from so much negativity.

A little moderation and balance can take the viwer much further than three hours of constant negativity. A perfect example of balance this in film making can be found in The Cider House Rules. It's a film that focuses on many sides of the human experience. An absulotely beautiful film on all levels.

[--- Stay Away! ---]by  Feb 4, 2000
Bad, Bad, Bad! :-( This one will make you wish you went bowling.... Tom Cruise should have stayed in uniform like in "Top Gun". After "Eyes Wide Shut" and now "Magnolia", I think I will stay away from any future Cruise movies. This movie is sooo depressing and stupid. However, as much as I hate to admit it, there are some great acting bits. But, not enough to make it worth while to sit through this 3 hour tourture. Don't waste your money. Go see something funny.
[--- See Now! ---]by  Feb 6, 2000
I absolutely loved this movie. I went to see it with three other people... two of them left after the first 45 minutes to sneak into Toy Story, and the other stayed with me to watch this film. You definitely have to think about the movie to underastand it, but there's an awesome message in it, if you pay attention to grasp it. If you liked Pulp Fiction, you'll like this. Don't wait for rental... see this one in the theatre. I've seen it twice already, and I can't wait to see it again!!
[--- Stay Away! ---]by  Feb 6, 2000
I like abstract ideas, I enjoy off the beaten path movies and books. But this one, wow! What garbage. I kept waiting and waiting to feel something other then revoltion and insult at the use of language and pathetic charactors.

An hour and a half into this sinful waste of talent and money my husband began urging me to leave, I waited and waited thinking, no there must be some redeeming value. I spent to much on admission and popcorn to give up easily.
As the second hour of the movie began I finally gave in to the thought that yes, the toilet bowl at home does need to be cleaned and I thought it far more enjoyable a way to spend the remainder of my day then watching this "movie"

From an avid movie goer and book reader, this one is a real waste.
[--- Stay Away! ---]by  Feb 6, 2000
Without a doubt the worst movie I have ever seen. My date suggested that we go see it because as she said "There is no such thing as a bad Tom Cruise movie". She had changed her mind after the three grueling hours of Magnolia. I am thinking of asking the studio for my money back plus an extra $100 for time served!
[--- See Now! ---]by  Feb 6, 2000
Excellent filmmaking, tremendous acting, fresh concepts make for a near-classic. Cruise has never been better, while John C. Reilly and Melora Walters haven't had better roles. Probably 30 minutes too long, and some of the minor plotlines could be deleted, but it doesn't really detract from the experience.
[--- Stay Away! ---]by  Feb 6, 2000
Until now, I was a big Tom Cruise fan. The role he chose was okay,(a guy whose troubled childhood has left its mark into adult life as a result of an absentee father) but the use of continual offensive profanities against women was too much. Any actor should have negotiated to eliminate these parts of the script or turn down the role.I think he "whored" himself as a result. I can tolerate the occasional use of four letter words, but with Cruise's character,it really goes too far in this movie.The "R" rating is probably too weak for some of the scenes, which are pornographic in nature.

The Biblical reference was kind of silly in the way that it was ultimately used. The general message (I percieved that to be to avoid sins/mistakes that hurt or affect others in a bad way) could have been conveyed without the graphic sexual abuse scenes. Jason Robards intermittent confessions while he lay sick in bed are an example of how "storytelling" by a character has this effect.

In a trashy, profane way, the movie seems to be telling us that some people have ugly skeletons in their closets. So really, if you watch the news, read the newspaper, or even the Bible, you already knew that. A work of art is not always pleasing or palatable, but this movie is far from being the "best film of the year," or any year for that matter.
[--- See Now! ---]by  Feb 6, 2000
Without a doubt, the best film of 1999, and one of the best of the 90's....period. Utterly original and devastating, Magnolia further proves that Paul Thomas Anderson is the most talented filmmaker to come around the pike since Scorsese! In an age where every has been done cinematically, Magnolia raises the bar; daring new filmmakers to reach the heights Magnolia does. Self-indulgent? Yes. Overlong? Maybe. But the fact is PTA makes films for himself and people who appreciate excellent cinema (witness the box office) Those are the terms of a "maverick" filmmaker.

And as for the conclusion....

1999 was a year for "shock" finales.

Those were impressive (especially Fight Club) but if you say that you predicted the ending of Magnolia, then you are on par with Jon Lovitz as a gigantic pathological liar. AMAZING!
[--- See Now! ---]by  Feb 6, 2000
People who are impatient need not attend, but for everyone who will allow themselves to get absorbed into a fascinating 24 hours in the lives of a handful of interconnected people, they will be rewarded. The performances are unbelievable. Tom Cruise is getting the most attention and praise, but he's surrounded by greatness as well. Philip Seymour Hoffman is completely astounding in his beautiful performance, William H. Macy is surprisingly vulnerable and sympathetic, and Julianne Moore is hypnotizing. Melora Walters and John C. Reilly were wonderful, especially together.

The stories and the interactions between the characters are very true and very feeling. Paul Thomas Anderson knows how people interact with each other and gives each character such uniqueness. His camerawork is completely enthralling, and the big development at the end of the film that brings in his idea of chance occurrences is not a cheat. It effects everyone, and sends each of them away with a new direction and some hope. It is a beautiful film that is so enjoyable because it tells a vivid story with brilliant actors working together in unexpected roles to actualize it.
[--- See Now! ---]by  Feb 6, 2000
While I can see why some people would complain about the length of this masterpiece, I am appalled by their lack of appreciation. In only his third time in the director's chair, P.T. Anderson (of Boogie Nights fame) accomplishes what most director's strive for in a lifetime.

Magnolia contains excellent acting by an incredible ensemble, including Tom Cruise, John C. Reilly, and William H. Macy. Its cinematography is outstanding and certainly worthy of an Academy Award. Magnolia, contrary to the horrible reader reviews, is a brilliantly crafted movie that deserves more than a few Oscar nods.

If you can't appreciate quality cinema, stay away, but if you would like to see epic filmmaking at its finest, buy a ticket for Magnolia before it leaves theaters.
[--- See Now! ---]by  Mar 2, 2000
Loneliness and despair run rampant throughout Paul Thomas Anderson's "Magnolia", the follow up to his 1997 hit "Boogie Nights." The story follows the lives of several inhabitants of the San Fernando Valley, each one stumbling around in their own emotional darkness looking to find some sort of peace in their otherwise sad and lonely existence.

At the apex of this dysfunctional family tree of characters is Earl Partridge (Jason Robards), a television executive now on his deathbed. Consumed by regret, he asks his live-in nurse (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to locate the son he hasn't seen since the boy was ten years old. The son, who has changed his name to Frank T.J. Mackey (Tom Cruise), now tours as a kind of Tony Robbins of sexual conquest. He uses this persona mainly as a shield to block away all
rememberances of his past. (When he is being interviewed, he communicates more in facial contortions than words, until the interviewer asks directly about the truth behind his past.)

There are many other characters thrown into the mix here including Linda Partridge (Julianne Moore), Earl's wife who married for money, yet now discovers she truly loves him -- a very painful spot considering his current state of health. We also get to know Jack Gator (Philip Baker Hall), the host of a rather sadistic game show entitled "What Do Kids Know" which pits children against adults in a battle of general knowledge; Claudia Gator (Melora Walters), Jack's daughter whose soul is so torn she spends her days drowning out any semblance of her life with cocaine and excruciatingly loud music; Stanley Spector (Jeremy Blackman), a child genius who seems only content to be a genius if it can win him the love of his father; Donnie Smith (William H. Macy), a former child genius now looking for some way to recapture the essence of what made him once loved by many; and Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly), a police officer on the lookout for love as well as crime.

All the characters and their plights are woven together masterfully by Anderson, who uses numerous quick edits and fast camera moves to give the film a kinetic energy. Somehow, he is able to do this without the movie ever dipping into an obnoxious state of production overkill. I'm not entirely sure how he does this. Maybe it's the attention paid to the details of the characters' lives being so strong and brilliant which causes the storyline to resonate above any sort of production techniques used to convey its message.

It is this attention to detail which gives the film a texture most other movies can't match. It's interesting to see how the concept of love (whether it be the desire for it, the need to escape it, or the misinterpretation of it) affects each individual in one way or another. For example, when Linda Partridge visits her husband's lawyer to get herself taken out of his will, he subtly attempts to inquire about her sobriety or lack thereof, to which she responds angrily. Sure, she's intoxicated -- not by mind-altering substances, but by the boa-like grasp her new found love and guilt have on her. I also liked how Officer Jim Kurring has his ability to find love hampered by his Dragnet-like approach to the job. When we first see him patrolling the streets, we hear his voice-over narration talking about the philosophy he has adopted toward his line of work. He's not narrating to the audience though, but rather to himself. No wonder he's lonely -- he's too busy giving a running commentary on his duties as an officer of the law. Not only does this make him difficult to reach emotionally, but it affects his ability to really perform his job. (In a revealing moment, when he loses his gun while chasing a suspect, he breaks down and cries rather than thinking of a way out.)

Also interesting to watch is Jack Gator, who seems to have garnered every ounce of his identity from the way the television public views him. He seems like a personable fellow, respected by his co-workers, admired by his fans, looked up to by kids, and loved by his wife (Melinda Dillon), even after he confesses his infidelity to her. It's when she asks about a suspected incident regarding their daughter that everything comes crashing down. His response is so
pathetic, it's jaw-dropping. And "quiz kid" Donnie Smith is the kind of person who makes the same mistake many people make when looking for love -- the thought that there is some specific thing you can do, say, or be that will make you instantly lovable to those around you. He tries desperately to hold on to anything which will give him a sense of being and strong status. (He even keeps keys to his former places of employment in an apparent effort to maintain a false sense of security and power.) The lesson he must learn is perhaps the toughest with regards to love -- that there are some people who just won't love you at all, and there is nothing you can do about it.

By combining a captivating visual style, a brilliant narrative with some indescribable plot twists, a maticulous attention to detail, not to mention getting the most out of a fabulous cast, writer/director Anderson has created a work of art that not only keeps the viewer enthralled the entire running time, but one that also makes perfect sense by its conclusion. And for a movie about finding true love, that's no small feat.

--Michael Brendan, "Mad Dog" Film Reviews (www.maddogreviews.com)
[--- See Now! ---]by  Mar 3, 2000
this was the best movie I've seen in the past year.... scenes from disparate lives incredibly woven to tell of love, hope and forgiveness...

I left the theatre impressed with the depth of the screenwriter's understanding of the complicated emotions of real people. I would like to see what the characters do tomorrow, and next week and next year....
[--- See Now! ---]by  Jun 11, 2000
Magnolia left me relling from the theatre, staggering from the relentless assault of an adventurous director reveling in his craft. At nearly three and a half hours, Magnolia will strike some as a brute of a film. It not only demands your attention, but challenges you to grasp the significance of seemingly unrelated storylines and hidden intentions. It is delirious, depressing, heady, pretentious, surreal filmmaking. It's also a movie that will polarize its viewers.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson takes a talented cast, wraps them in a net of interrelated stories and sets them spinning in a symphony of despair whose song doesn't let up until an oddly exhilerating, biblically influenced pseudo-climax. The character's make up a modern day Gomorrah in the soulless way in which they live their lives. There is Frank Mackey (Tom Cruise), a slithery snake charmer of men whose "Search and Destroy" seminars teach how to mentally rape a woman to get into her pants. There is Earl Partridge (Jason Robards), a dying media tycoon yearning to make amends for a lfe of callousness by finding his estranged son. There is game show host Jimmy Gator (Phillip Baker Hall), a self absorbed TV icon who is hiding more than a few secrets from his public. And there is police officer Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly), who cloaks himself in the codification of organized religion and the legal system, perhaps masking a man who needs rules to fuel his decision making process.

Given equal weight are stories involving a coke-addled emotional cripple (Melora Walters), a former TV quiz show champion (William H. Macy). a materialistic, adulterous wife (Julianne Moore), a child (Jeremy Blackman) victimized by a mentally abusive parent, and a caring, empathetic nurse (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Hovering over all these characters is a cloud of death, lies and despair. It is not a pleasant movie.

There is not one bad note in the acting. It is affecting and layered and wonderful. There is a moment where Tom Cruise wordlessly implodes that rivals work he has done in whole films. Then he tops himself with a mesmerizing deathbed scene. Walters plays her character with red-eyed rawness and a fierce self-destructiveness that is anxiety inducing. Robards convincingly portrays a fading whisper of a man, who still hears a lion's roar when he speaks. Director Anderson has apparently given the actors lattitude to emote. The problem is that he stays on them too long. Julianne Moore's character, Linda, quickly escalates to a frenzied pitch of guilt, tears, screaming and remorse and never backs off from it. After a few hours, it turns from interesting to chinese water torture. Quite a few scenes, such as the game show, go on just a bit too long and will be off-putting for those used to a pat 90 minute film where the main theme is reiterated several times just in case you missed it the first go around.

And just what is the theme? Alienation? Hopelessness? Anderson challenges you to draw your own conclusions and he doesn't make it easy. The film starts by showing three, strange and seemingly unrelated events. It's a harbinger of the synchronicity to come. At times, different stories reach reach key moments at the same time. Other times, stories seem to veer off into uncharted territory, regardless of what else is happening. Anderson is audacious enough to even have a group sing in the middle of the film! What's surprising is that it mostly works. If you have doubts about Anderson's intentions, I'll ask you to pay attention to the final frame. Despite all the Sturm und Drang, Magnolia ultimately speaks to man's capacity for hope and attempts at redemption.

Despite Magnolia's needlessly long running time and its propensity for uneven editing as Anderson plays the auteur, showing off fro the masses, I have to admire his guts. This is truly adventurous filmmaking that spits in the face of conventional storytelling.

A side note: Helping anchor the film is a perfectly matched soundtrack featuring Aimee Mann. Her lyrics often add depth to a scene thematically while the actual music is both morose and beautiful. When she sings "Save Me" at the end, it enhances the yearning felt by the characters, just as "Wise Up" mirrors the anguish felt by all as they contemplate their lives.

review by Scott Hunt. Visit me at Movie Hunt http://netdirect.net/~hunt/index.html
[--- See Now! ---]by VIP MemberMay 6, 2003
"Magnilia," is Paul Thomas Anderson's best work, even though this is his second film. Anderson who directed and wrote this film is three hours of joy and three hour of excellent cinema. This is a real joy that someone like Anderson with his excellent storytelling can come up with a remarkable movie of the human spirit. The film tells of a group of people withg their own problems to cope. Tom Cruise plays a male speaker who must deal with father dying, a genius on a game show who is not allow to use the bathroom. I could go on with more characters, but one thing these characters all have in common. A unusual event which binds them all. This is a different and daring film. "Magnilia" is must see cinema. A breakthough film that you had to see for yourself.
[--- Good ---]by  Dec 27, 2013



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