cranky home
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do         Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

Top Selling DVD     Books

50 Shades of Grey
Exodus Gods and Kings
Grand Budapest Hotel
Imitation Game, The
Into the Woods

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Theory of Everything
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
A Bug's Life
Chronicles of Narnia set
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE


Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

Alice in Wonderland
Beauty and the Beast
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Princess Mononoke
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy

click for full sized poster


Starring Jeremy Blackman, Tom Cruise, Melinda Dillon, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ricky Jay, William H. Macy, Alfred Molina, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Jason Robards and Melora Waters
Written and Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

IN SHORT: Incomprehensible. Rated [R], 195 minutes

A couple of months ago, Cranky got an email from someone working on the set of writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia. He warned me that this flick was a disaster of momentous proportions but the very wording of his message made it sound like he had a bone to pick, so we ignored it. Then a critics group pronounced it one of the best of the year. We, who had seen promise in Hard 8 and had enjoyed Boogie Nights, settled into the comfy seats of a screening room -- this thing is over three hours long. I have to protect my legs -- and waited with anticipation.

Magnolia the movie, which is not about flowers, is like a stomach virus that just won't go away. . . Like heartburn of nova intensity. . . Like Blair Witch Project, only without the scares or production values . . .

Waitasec. Blair Witch Project didn't have any scares or production values. Still, Magnolia, Anderson's follow up to the greatly entertaining Boogie Nights is so mind-numbingly awful that, at more than twice the Witch's length it almost surpasses the disaster that dead director Stanley Kubrick left us. . .

Waitasec. Eyes Wide Shut kept its awful-ness limited to one character's journey into the world of sexual bleh. Magnolia gives us a half dozen characters, meandering in the world of relationships. Tom Cruise (trying to outdo his work with Kubrick) stars as a long haired media wizard teaching lonely geeks how to get laid. The Wizard's teevee producing Father (Jason Robards), who abandoned the kidlet years before, is dying. Father's Young Wife (Julianne Moore), who married for the money, discovers that she really does love the old coot and The Caretaker (Philip Seymour Hoffman) tries to put the family back together again.

There's a whole 'nother fractured relationship story running parallel and linked by only the most tenuous of threads to the story above. In this one, The Boy Genius (Jeremy Blackman) who has financed his family through a successful run on a game show, created by the Father, doesn't want to do it anymore. Boy Genius' Father (Michael Bowen) won't have that. The Game Show Host (Philip Baker Hall) is also dying. The Ex-Boy Genius (William H. Macy), who had been a famous contestant years before and misses his fifteen minutes of fame, watches it all on television at the local bar. Tries to use his ex-fame as a pickup line.

Finally, there's something about a born again Police Officer in Love (John C. Reilly) who falls in love with a coke fiend (Melora Walters).

And then it rains frogs.

We said it in our review of Hard 8, Anderson spreads himself too thin (and that flick only had four characters!). He managed the feat in Boogie Nights but it's back to square one with this effort. Even in the comfy chairs, my legs were throbbing and my brain was close to flatlining. As emotive as Tom Cruise is, he could be banging a drum for all I care, a good performance means nothing when there is nothing else to keep you interested.

The rating below is based on the strict rule of this site that you shouldn't have to know anything when you walk into the theater to understand the movie. Afterwards I'll give you a clue that I found on an unassociated website, that makes it all clear and may help you enjoy this monstrosity.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Magnolia, he would have paid...


The clue is in your Bible. Exodus 8:2: "And if thou shalt refuse to let [them] go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs." Don't think Prince of Egypt, think parent/kidlet relationships. Hope you have a better time than moi.

Click to buy films by Paul Thomas Anderson
Click to buy films starring Tom Cruise
Click to buy films starring Julianne Moore
Click to buy films starring Jason Robards
Click to buy films starring William H. Macy

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2016   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.