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Awesome: 3.45%
Worth A Look44.83%
Average: 24.14%
Pretty Bad: 13.79%
Total Crap: 13.79%

1 review, 23 user ratings

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Pelican Brief, The
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by Ryan Arthur

"A movie about a good hearted lawyer. Yeah, right."
4 stars

Another Grisham adaptation.

This was the second of John Grisham's novels to be made into a feature, the first being The Firm. It had quite a bit going for it.

Whereas The Firm had Tom Cruise, The Pelican Brief had Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington. While The Firm had Sydney Pollack as director, The Pelican Brief had Alan J. Pakula. Both had built-in audiences from the book.

But the problem with The Pelican Brief mirrors the problem with every Grisham adaptation that sees the light of day. The hero is always an idealistic lawyer (usually young, with the exception of The Client) who either beats the system or triumphs over some form of legal evil. Grisham's a one-note author, and each of his books (and therefore the filmed adaptations of those books) have a certain stale, "we've seen this before" feel to them.

The Pelican Brief works on the strength of its actors. Roberts is a young law student who has discovered a secret involving the assassination of two Supreme Court justices. She's on the run. Washington is the investigative reporter that Roberts turns to to get the story out and insure her safety. Both the leads are perfect in their roles: Roberts recaptures the sort of warmth that she's been missing in her other roles, and Washington proves he's an actor's actor, he's entirely credible as the reporter. The two have great chemistry together, but not romantic chemistry, which is fine, because this is a film that doesn't need that sort of thing.

Director Pakula has done political thrilers before (All The President's Men) and does a fine job here. He makes the story on screen far more intriguing than it is on the page.

As Grisham adaptations go, this is actually pretty good.

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originally posted: 09/12/98 00:01:16
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User Comments

4/30/12 db0seven Roberts/Washington have terrific chemistry. 4 stars
12/11/06 Abs Not bad, worth watching once 3 stars
8/11/05 ES Julia, some how you continue to find work= film that cannot be watched 2 stars
6/05/05 Dimitri Papastavrou I Liked it! Pakula is good and Washington was convincing. Roberts was too photogenic 4 stars
7/18/04 Nobody This is the kind of movie that you watch, but it doesn't really leave a mark 3 stars
9/05/03 Wendy Welch Bombastic buildup to lameness. And pelicans don't wear briefs. What bird is 51 in a nut? 3 stars
7/07/03 Sean Good suspense, definitely worth the 2h30m runtime 4 stars
6/22/03 cochese I hate Julia Roberts, but this movie was ok. 3 stars
3/27/03 Jack Sommersby Pretty cliche-ridden, yet it's swift and suspenseful. 3 stars
10/16/02 Charles Tatum Leaps in logic never ground a mediocre film 2 stars
7/29/02 Sonia Medina Loved it, kept me on the edge of my seat 4 stars
6/12/02 hilarydsur average 3 stars
4/01/02 Leanne Great Suspense 4 stars
3/06/02 mista meesta yep sure did 1 stars
2/16/02 R.W. Welch Routine cloak and dagger yarn, never very convincing. 2 stars
1/30/02 Andrew Carden Good Acting, but Pale Adaption To The Grisham Novel. 3 stars
9/09/01 Butterbean This was better than the book, but that's not saying much 2 stars
7/07/01 Elvisfan WOW, Brill can read? 1 stars
4/26/01 Lee Young Wow! Good movie! 5 stars
3/08/01 Sanja interesting, worth a look 4 stars
2/23/01 Tyrone Can you say, boring 1 stars
2/02/01 Bob Barker This movie was total crap 1 stars
3/06/00 Kyle Broflovski I ain't a big Grisham fan, but I did happen to like this movie. 4 stars
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  17-Dec-1993 (PG-13)



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