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Overall Rating

Awesome: 3.33%
Worth A Look: 11.67%
Average: 6.67%
Pretty Bad: 31.67%
Total Crap46.67%

3 reviews, 42 user ratings

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Mona Lisa Smile
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Greg Muskewitz

"Frowns abound."
2 stars

A laidback UCLA graduate (Julia Roberts) manages to get a teaching position at Wellesley in 1953, but finds that she must battle for the respect of the pansophist debutantes.

Her forte is art history, and when her students prove they know the text as well as she, the question posed then becomes, who decides what art is good art? (The character gets air points for showing a picture of her mother, which a student criticizes for only being a snapshot. “If I told you Ansel Adams took it, would it change your mind?”) The impression she leaves polarizes her students, leaving them either inspired by her mold-breaking way of thinking, or writing scathing pieces in the school’s paper about her subversive, forward-thinking. Of course, it’s easy enough for the today’s screenwriter to critically write about Eisenhower’s era of conformism, all the while making their protagonist seem ahead of the time and smart for it. But notwithstanding the easy embellishment, the initial discourse on art has enough of a hook, and for the moment, Roberts is uncharacteristically restrained. As the movie becomes more critical of the role of women in society, and how Wellesley is a prepping ground for marriage, the focus shimmies over to relationships — the instructor with her lover on the other coast, and a prospective interest in the Italian professor, the already married student, just back from honeymoon, the other student, awaiting proposal but with an application in to Yale law. It contents itself to the banal boredom of a soap opera, flimsy and weightless, and ultimately, with no point to prove but the obvious. (All of the characters are read, from a distance, like a giant billboard.) Mike Newell no longer sees the need to comment on the times and examine the women whom the high society will be made up of, but to drag things along with their romantic notions and/or pitfalls. (High society, they might eventually be, but when the young married couple invites their prospective couple/friends over, they undeniably look as though they’re playing house.) Ergo, the small amount of air it was collecting up in the movie’s favor, is quickly punctured and dispensed of. As a side note, although it could be argued whether Mona Lisa is even smiling, Roberts’ large-lipped smile doesn’t bear any sort of resemblance to the painting. With Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kirsten Dunst, Ginnifer Goodwin, Juliet Stevenson, Marcia Gay Harden, Jordan Bridges, and Topher Grace.

[See it if you must.]

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 05/14/04 09:39:53
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User Comments

12/10/08 LM honestly i think the movie is great...people is just trippin. 4 stars
10/08/08 Mona Lisa After seeing this, I'll never smile again. 1 stars
9/03/08 Shaun Wallner Ugg boring!! 1 stars
4/28/08 art A WOMEN"S STORY A NO-NO FOR MEN 1 stars
11/27/05 francis formaran mabara an is2rya kay wara kami paka imod 1 stars
11/11/05 Dan Watched this movie in psych class, good representation of women at the time. DSnider Sucks. 4 stars
8/16/05 Lynn I'm just glad I rented the movie for nothing at the library 2 stars
3/03/05 Kathy ter Plugg Too what they got Kirsten dunced into, along with snouty Julia and pouty Julia! 2 stars
12/09/04 Kristina Williams Julia Roberts IS Skeletor 1 stars
8/11/04 ish i am more beautiful than the movie 3 stars
7/07/04 Margie i wouldn't call it crap, i just hate the fact that i wasted my money on it. 2 stars
7/06/04 Wildcarde1 im not sure who made julia roberts such a big star but...bad, bad dog, no oscar for you 1 stars
6/22/04 T. Maj OK, Julia, you got your stupid Oscar, now leave us alone 1 stars
6/19/04 Denise Duspiva a little slow 4 stars
6/01/04 Nobody What a friggin piece of crap. "Movie" is too kind. 1 stars
5/17/04 intelligent single woman I really liked Julia in this one, she stands up for single women not ruled by men! 4 stars
5/16/04 Idiot's Mouth Finally, Stiles is not cast as "white girl who does black man", but horseface ruined it. 1 stars
5/14/04 earl duron I enjoyed this uplifting film 4 stars
3/26/04 Sarah Does Julia Roberts ever do anything new? This movie wasn't really worth the money. 2 stars
3/12/04 tentay women should be seen equally to men... they are not second to thumb up! 4 stars
3/08/04 Julia Stiles is a lovely flower but possibly should change her name. Stiles always have stigmas attached to them. It comes with the territory. 3 stars
3/06/04 JS elevates this from crap to average Call her porcelain-faced if you will Eric, Julia Stiles is the best part of this movie! 3 stars
3/04/04 Millie Maelstrom Why the long face WHICH Julia, EricDSnider? DEAD POETS' SOCIETY is crappy too, by the way. 2 stars
3/03/04 C'mon Betty White, Steven Seagal is better than that! Any movie with Kirsten Dunst and Julia Stiles should be WAY better than this! Mostly boring 2 stars
1/29/04 f*r*o*s*t*y Roberts is annoying. Gyllenhaal is great. Surprise appearance by Tori Amos! 2 stars
1/25/04 Alan Absolutely terrible, even for a chick flick 1 stars
1/16/04 Debbie Nystrom Snouty Julia & Pouty Julia. What hore could one want? Too bad Kirsten was Dunced into this! 1 stars
1/15/04 Betty White So silly and terribly acted you sometimes think you're watching a Steven Seagal film. 1 stars
1/11/04 Atanu Another chick dung from the house of crap and crappier 1 stars
1/06/04 Chris We've seen this movie before but so what. Roberts is great as is the story. See it. 4 stars
1/05/04 Caiphn Not even worth giving a chance. 1 stars
1/02/04 Jack A wretched movie jammed with cliches, predictable plot lines, and horrible overacting. 1 stars
12/31/03 HELLOWEEN yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn 1 stars
12/28/03 Edler Man, she gots collagen implants for the aging. IT looks real bad and the movie sucks. 1 stars
12/25/03 Betsy Boring, derivitive, predictable, PC 1 stars
12/22/03 sethandbeth UGH!! what is wrong with JR's lips!!! She is so over rated!!! 1 stars
12/21/03 pooman69 this movie is feminist crap!!!!! 1 stars
12/20/03 Suzz one of the most enjoyable films I've seen this year 5 stars
12/19/03 djacosta Beautiful 5 stars
12/13/03 Monster W. Kung Mona Lisa smile? She looks like fuckin' PAC MAN! 1 stars
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  19-Dec-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 09-Mar-2004



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