What he doesn't give us - and what makes the book work - is Kerouac's bedazzled bohemian swoon. Without it, On the Road is a curiously remote experience, all reason and no rhyme.
Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
It all seems - dare I say it? - of little consequence.
Stephen Holden - New York Times
Salles, an intelligent director whose films include "The Motorcycle Diaries," doesn't invest "On the Road" with the wildness it needs for its visual style, narrative approach and leads.
Manohla Dargis - New York Times
Walter Salles's warm but strangely staid adaptation of a piece of literature that was never meant to be tamed as cinema.
Ann Hornaday - Washington Post
Against all odds, a surprisingly effective movie.
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
Another "primitive" postwar antique repurposed for boutique sale.
Nick Pinkerton - Village Voice
Salles has made an admirable effort, which - while no roman candle - can be appreciated for its honest ambitions.
Elizabeth Weitzman - New York Daily News
It's neither the first nor the best road trip that Mr. Salles has brought to the screen.
Joe Morgenstern - Wall Street Journal
This, and a certain lack of what one could call narrative thrust, makes 'On the Road' a strange, diffuse experience, offering occasional glimpses of genuine beauty ...
Glenn Kenny - MSN Movies
A pleasant but undistinguished adaptation of Jack Kerouac's 1957 novel about himself and his Beat friends in the late forties.
David Denby - New Yorker
Although Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" has been praised as a milestone in American literature, this film version brings into question how much of a story it really offers.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
While Kerouac's odyssey lacks conventional narrative or novelistic beats (though it comes with plenty of the other kind), the restlessness of the prose has its own cinematic allure.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
In Salles, screenwriter Jose Rivera and company's effort to get the details right, they only get so far. And it's not quite far enough.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
It took more than half a century, but Jack Kerouac's autobiographical cult novel of bohemian youth in postwar America has reached the screen in wonderful form.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
It's not a wreck of a movie; it's not a sleek race car either. But there's heat to be felt here.
Tom Long - Detroit News
Director Walter Salles' film is fairly faithful to the source material. It's not going to start a movement, though.
Bill Goodykoontz - Arizona Republic
Despite the high level of craft here, it's an inadequate substitute for the thrilling, sustaining intelligence of Kerouac's voice.
Justin Chang - Variety
What's best about the film are its quick jumps from one depravity to the next as jazz rambles on the soundtrack: Youth is a candle to be burned at both ends, with (as it was once said about Bob Dylan) a blowtorch in the middle.
Kyle Smith - New York Post
The film is a handsomely photographed and competently cast work that does justice to Kerouac's concept of "the purity of the road." Yet there's still something maddeningly lacking about it.
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
a respectful, tuned-in approach
Jordan Hoffman - Film.com
Sorry, On the Road just doesn't travel well.
Rick Groen - Globe and Mail
On the Road is not a great movie, but it's a pretty interesting work of literary criticism.
David Haglund - Slate
While the film's dramatic impact is variable, visually and aurally it is a constant pleasure.
Todd McCarthy - Hollywood Reporter
In the end, ''On the Road'' remains paved over.
Jake Coyle - Associated Press
If there were an On the Road museum, this could be the elaborate diorama at its center.
Richard Corliss - TIME Magazine
A dash of Tarantino might have juiced up Walter Salles' wrongheadedly well-mannered take on Jack Kerouac's 1957 Beat Generation landmark. On the Road feels tight and constricted.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
Well-intentioned and well-made but self-indulgent exercise tries really hard but falls short.
Richard Roeper - Richard Roeper.com
Salles has lovingly crafted a poetic, sensitive, achingly romantic version of the Kerouac book that captures the evanescence of its characters' existence and the purity of their rebellious hunger for the essence of life.
Kenneth Turan - Los Angeles Times
Although the film is sensationally photographed and artfully directed and scored, it's ultimately strictly dullsville, man.
Richard Knight - Windy City Times
Despite the obvious enthusiasm of the screenwriter, the director, and the actors for Kerouac's novel, they get it wrong. Probably nobody can get it right, since the power is in the words, not the story.
Louis Proyect - rec.arts.movies.reviews
Salles can't recreate the feeling of finding oneself in Kerouac's prose
Bill Gibron - Film Racket
It's hard to imagine how such an exciting book became such a boring movie.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Common Sense Media
A booze-soaked, drug-riddled, sex-filled escapade with no real point about young people casting off whatever yokes chain them and seeing what's out there. It captures the pure exhilaration of freedom for its own sake.
Christopher Lloyd - Sarasota Herald-Tribune
If our On the Road is a barely coherent tightrope act - a fizzy word drunk stand-up speed-rapped by an aspiring poet posing as a dumb saint prole - then it's tough to take this pretty version, populated by Gap models in retro Americana fashions.
Philip Martin - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
The movie version of "On the Road" won't have the impact on a person that the book ever did. But it does go some way to explaining why the book did.
Rob Thomas - Capital Times (Madison, WI)
At just over two hours, its challenging to stay invested in the movie and its choppy, rambling storyline. As a filmic experience, however, it serves as an interesting companion piece to the similarly challenging 'The Master.'
Eric Melin - Lawrence.com
Not a film for the masses....the story is laced with sex, drugs and nudity, but it is a capable character study of a group of young friends who could be part of any generation.
David Kaplan - Kaplan vs. Kaplan
A pretty disappointment.
Mike Scott - Times-Picayune
Considering the central characters would become the dominant figures of the Beat movement, it's unbelievable how pedestrian their antics prove, not to mention how through-the-roof the picture's corn quotient is. Could the soundtrack have more bongo music?
Rick Kisonak - Film Threat
Salles approaches Kerouac's raw, restless and spontaneous work in such a staid and conservative manner that the movie might as well be a lesser Merchant-Ivory production from the team's late-'90s period of decline.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
The filmmakers are intelligent and gifted, but they fail to provide a satisfying answer to the question facing anyone who might want to make a movie version of 'On the Road,' namely: Why bother?
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Even Stewart, exuding more passion than in all five Twilight movies, registers more fully than the preening leads.
Sean Means - Salt Lake Tribune
Jack Kerouac's Beat Generation bible "On the Road" was experimental, experiential and ephemeral in a way Walter Salles' film never captures or portrays.
Duane Dudek - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
If the movie weren't so visually eloquent at evoking post-war America, it might prove unbearable.
Jon Niccum - Kansas City Star
Salles aims to do for Jack Kerouac what he did for Che Guevara, i.e., to make him and his pals rock stars.
Kelly Vance - East Bay Express
What Salles gets just right is the sense of speed - of lives lived too fast, of the blacktop passing before their windshield in a blur.
Roger Moore - Movie Nation
This pretty period-pictorial companion piece to the novel fatally misses out on the brain-firing raw buzz that Kerouac felt and passed on to his readers...
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
Hedlund is too pretty and not quite as maniacally charming as Dean. Riley's Kerouac is even more apprehensive than the one in the novel, and that raspy voice he uses is distracting.
Nina Garin - San Diego Union-Tribune
The film has a dreamy nocturnal lyricism, especially in scenes of Moriarty's streamlined 1949 Hudson Commodore hurtling across America's lamp-lit highways.
James Verniere - Boston Herald
This makes for a rather uninspired film that, despite being based off of a novel considered a classic, fails to grab the viewer's attention with its meandering storyline and characters that drift in and out of the picture.
Jeff Beck - Examiner.com
"On the Road" is something of a sprawling mess, but then so is the novel.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
Clutching Jack Kerouac's peripatetic roman a clef like a besotted sophomore, Walter Salles trails Kerouac and Neal Cassady's novelistic doppelgangers like an eager puppy.
Sam Adams - Philadelphia City Paper
Notwithstanding the characters' spiritual camaraderie, Salles' emphasizes the hard physical labor and loneliness in Sal's story, including the jittery rigors of the writing process.
Joe Williams - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Even if Salles' film can't possibly capture the impact of its source, it's intriguing enough to rate a place in the ever-expanding mythology of "the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live."
Marc Mohan - Oregonian
It's not entirely successful, but it has many beautiful moments.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
Comes off as the early days of douchebaggery in the aimless tale of a guy in love with the sound of his own voice.
Matt Pais - RedEye
The movie makes you feel as though you've just woken up from an all-time bender: disoriented, confused, and wondering why you just put yourself through it.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
They did what they wanted, even if it wasn't always that much, and they did it stylishly. While on drugs.
Dave White - Movies.com
In the end, it retains its status as a journey to who-knows-where, yet probably not in the way its original author intended.
Andrew Simpson - Fan The Fire
This 2+ hour adaptation (by Jose Rivera) spends most of its time on two things: sex, with various participants, and a lot of driving to and from various parts of the American landscape.
Robin Clifford - Reeling Reviews
A film that should beguile anyone with even the slightest tendency toward being a seeker - and any fan of the book who wants a figurative translation to the here and now.
Marshall Fine - Hollywood & Fine
The protagonists' aimless drug- and sex-fuelled adventures have neither a seductive pull nor the weight of tragedy. They're just grimy and a little boring.
Eugene Novikov - Film Blather
Tiresome and relentlessly feverish, it never captures the spontaneous exuberance or rhapsodic wanderlust of the Beat Generation.
Susan Granger - SSG Syndicate
Riley eventually somewhat grows into his role, but Hedlund grabs us and never lets go.
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
It is a bunch of big, long, emotional, messy road trips.
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
Desperately in awe of its source material, and does not attempt to turn it into an interesting, enjoyable, or even functional narrative drama.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
Salles tries to capture the immediacy and spontaneous nature of the book, using long takes and even allowing the camera to drift out of focus when a character moves about.
Leonard Maltin - Leonard Maltin's Picks
To Kerouac fans: proceed with caution. The authenticity of the film's Beat flavor is mild at best. To everyone else: don't look too deep, and the sexy surface will entertain marvelously for a couple of hours.
Gabrielle Lipton - Paste Magazine
It's all rather exhausting, as opposed to exhilarating.
Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor
[The film] often feels stuck in second gear dramatically, remaining watchable without ever becoming truly compelling.
Ethan Alter - Television Without Pity
There's no madness here, no burning, no desperate search for transcendence, no sense of characters on a heroic, continent-crossing quest. Just another sticky, stinky story of boys, being boys. And refusing to become men.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
Kerouac's On the Road influenced generations of writers and artists. Don't expect this film to do the same.
Matt Singer - ScreenCrush
...a movie that's raging and serene, always looking over the horizon while grooving on the beauty of the here and now.
Chris Barsanti - PopMatters
Audiences may find reliving their own travel experiences during On the Road, enjoying the pretty scenery between the occasional nap and restroom break.
They don't seem like real people savoring their youth, but rather like illustrations in a book about how the Beats behaved.
Noel Murray - AV Club
Mistakes droning meditation for soulful significance, dashing around Kerouac's experiences without establishing connective tissue, making the feature less about the characters and more about the highlights.
Brian Orndorf - Blu-ray.com
The period detail is perfect and the lensing nails the novel's frenzied rhythms, but a literal-minded approach and miscast lead stall this baby before the finish line.
Erica Abeel - Film Journal International
Mostly feels like a group of Kerouac devotees performing a lifeless reenactment of prose that was better left on the page.
Keith Uhlich - Time Out
A snapshot of the nonconformist Beatniks of the 1950s who yearned for the freedom and pleasures of the open road.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
The lack of a strong expository voice further simplifies the wealth of explicit sex Walter Salles dramatizes, much of it drawn from juicy swathes of Jack Kerouac's only recently published original scroll.
Joseph Jon Lanthier - Slant Magazine
A case of alienation twice removed. First by the characters who wander in an emotionally distant fog through a perplexing American landscape. Then the filmmaker, whose voyage into palpably unfamiliar cultural territory compounds everything else.
Prairie Miller - Long Island Press
On the Road just can't keep the beat
David Ehrlich - Boxoffice Magazine
Shocking revelation! The movie is not as good as the book.
Staci Layne Wilson - StaciWilson.com
Salles's movie is a cause for celebration - the kind of celebration where everyone in attendance puts down their inhibitions and acts with all immediate integrity of soul.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
Too calculated and respectful to bring on any needed spontaneity.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
If you didn't know that Jack Kerouac's novel... was a seminal influence on postwar America... you would never, ever guess it from this lifeless, soulless, pointless adaptation.
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
This adaptation may not "burn, burn, burn" with quite the same intensity as the novel, but it kicks and thrusts with a joy and yearning of its own.
Cara Nash - FILMINK (Australia)
Bold, affecting and inherently sad.
Philip French - Observer [UK]
Perhaps its a testament to Kerouac's mastery of his own screwy milieu that all attempts to impose order on the material are doomed to fail.
Tara Brady - Irish Times
Despite the skill behind and in front of the camera, a badly constructed script flattens this film version of Jack Kerouac's iconic 1957 novel.
Rich Cline - Contactmusic.com
It's beautifully shot, handsomely mounted and well cast ...
Alan Jones - Radio Times
The notoriously "unfilmable" On the Road merely slides from hedonism into mild disillusionment.
Kate Muir - Times [UK]
On The Road has some great moments - including a brilliant segment with Viggo Mortensen playing the legendary William Burroughs - but ultimately fails to take you on the ride you want.
Alex Zane - Sun Online
It misses out the one thing that makes Jack Kerouac's 1957 novel worth reading - his voice - and has no insights into sex, drugs, music or beatniks.
Christopher Tookey - Daily Mail [UK]
A noble disappointment.
Matt Bochenski - Little White Lies
The trite scripting and direction are accessorised with dismaying invocations of Culture, lest we mistake Sal and Dean for mere wastrels with wanderlust.
Nigel Andrews - Financial Times
Hedlund is a gritty revelation, desperate and magnetic. Dean's constant need for sex is understood as a sign of damage, part of the same compulsion that sends him all over America, bouncing between wives.
Tim Robey - Daily Telegraph
Aside from a meandering, episodic narrative that never grips or compels the movie is, frankly, no more profound, insightful or thought-provoking than Road Trip or an American Pie movie - and a whole lot less fun.
Henry Fitzherbert - Daily Express
After more than two hours I felt like I'd been watching The Numb Diaries more than a Tarmac-gripping thriller.
Graham Young - Birmingham Post
Beautifully shot and boasts both strong performances and a superb soundtrack ...
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
The narrative might not go far, but you'll certainly feel like you've been on the road. On and on.
Elliott Noble - Sky Movies
It's a good-looking film, but strangely passionless, and at 137 mins it feels like a very long road.
Siobhan Synnot - Scotsman
A decent, well-cast and mounted adaptation that hits all the right notes but plays them in a respectful, muted monotone.
Damon Wise - Empire Magazine
A bore...a largely aimless, joyless, cinematically drab road movie full of longueurs and detours populated by dull characters with little or nothing of value to say.
Jim Schembri - 3AW
It may lose its way on occasions, but thanks to a committed cast and a script that captures the Kerouac vibe, Salles' adaptation never ends up on the road to nowhere.
James Mottram - Total Film
The straightforward narrative struggles to articulate the giddy thrills of making deep connections, of kindred spirits, and sex, jazz and Benzedrine.
Fiona Williams - sbs.com.au
A lot of it is so good and I think the performances are great. I think Garrett Hedlund is very charismatic.
Margaret Pomeranz - At the Movies (Australia)
Lovers of the book may feel Salles doesn't quite get it right, but he does a very solid job.
David Stratton - At the Movies (Australia)
While the film is lacking in connective tissue, Stewart and Hedlund go a long way to transcending the flaws. When they dance at one point, dusted with sweat and pleasure, On the Road truly moves. They're completely on the Beat.
Craig Mathieson - The Sunday Age
For the most part, On The Road is on the right track. All it needs is slightly more direction.
Adam Bub - MovieFIX
To get the most from the long and winding 140-minute journey ahead, some knowledge of the book (or at least its reputation) is compulsory.
Leigh Paatsch - Herald Sun (Australia)
On the Road offers beautiful vistas, full-blooded performances and great, episodic vignettes. It also frequently buckles under the weight of its own pretention.
Adam Ross - The Aristocrat
"The final film holds true to the source material - but it's just not a journey everyone's going to want to take."
Patrick Kolan - Shotgun Critic
While On the Road is a series of impressionistic moments, it would be a mistake to dismiss it as aimless.
Thomas Caldwell - Cinema Autopsy
The smell of marijuana, the sound of jazz, the lure of audacious sex and the click-clack of an Underwood typewriter conjure spellbinding images in this adaptation of literary giant Jack Kerouac's classic novel
Louise Keller - Urban Cinefile
Plays much like a piece of modern poetry; it doesn't rhyme, it doesn't scan, it has a jagged dynamic, makes beautiful sense one scene, confusing the next
Andrew L. Urban - Urban Cinefile
Good performances salvage an uneven film.
Chris Bumbray - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
Realizing that On the Road is not really a movie for me, I think it is a good movie. It's well done, fast paced at over two hours and never dragging.
Fred Topel - CraveOnline
Salles has done the book justice by creating a film about what it means to be young and hungry for life.
Rebecca Barry - Flicks.co.nz
What's ultimately wrong with On The Road is that the film envisions everyone Sal meets as nothing but fodder.
Linda Holmes - NPR
There are times when the film is incredibly pleasing to the eye but there is sadly little to be found beyond the aesthetic delights.
Craig Skinner - HeyUGuys
Evoca nas telas a escala epica das perambulacoes geograficas e existenciais de seus inesqueciveis personagens.
Pablo Villaca - Cinema em Cena
On the Road showcases universally solid performances under Salles direction - and weaves the majesty and allure of the diverse and wild vagabond life; unfortunately the wheels fall off in the final act.
Blake Howard - 2UE That Movie Show
A rambling, tedious, seemingly unending mess that can't be salvaged by three decent but mostly underwhelming performances. Maybe some Benzedrine would make the whole experience seem worthwhile.
Simon Miraudo - Quickflix
Salles brings evocative images, fresh faces, and some fine emotional shadings to the famous tale of friendship, love, sex, drugs, jazz, literature, and the American landscape.
Jon Frosch - The Atlantic
Salles never overcomes the problem that so influential has the book been that the depictions which once seemed radical are now cliche.
Kaleem Aftab - Independent
All that's missing is Kerouac's voice -- the reason the book is worth reading.
Scott Tobias - AV Club
What we're left with is a pleasant story of a group of friends on a road trip, not the captivating, liberating spirit of Kerouac's classic.
Gail Tolley - The List
Walter Salles' version is an honorable flop, a handsome film that tries hard, but ultimately doesn't convey the wild spirit and heartbeat that inform the text (and subtext) of Kerouac's iconic book.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
In many ways a pleasing film, the drama seems muted and what made the Beats seem extraordinary figures is only partially suggested.
Derek Malcolm - This is London
Derogatory dismissals of prosaic visual experiences have been around since, well, someone was bored to tears. To the poetic hyperbole of watching paint dry, or grass grow, we can now add: watching a writer write.
Kimberly Gadette - Doddle
Salles's film revels in the spirit of adventure espoused by beatniks Sal and Dean but is also awake to their all-consuming selfishness, regularly undercutting the free-spirited chaos with a few much-needed reality checks.
Charlie Lyne - Ultra Culture
Neither the journey nor the destination seems to matter a jot.
Robbie Collin - Daily Telegraph
It doesn't capture the cadence and flow of Kerouac's writing -- doesn't really even try to -- and can only hint at the intangibles that made the novel so influential.
Eric D. Snider - Movies.com
Walter Salles' film is designer Kerouac, a slick product that deploys all the tools of the big-budget, award-chasing indie film.
Lee Marshall - Screen International
You can keep the Zeitgeist embalmed in myth and nostalgia for as long as you like, but to truly reinvigorate it you'll need a whole lot more than a whiskey-hued lens and a frontseat full of pretty faces.
Adam Woodward - Little White Lies
This is On the Road as experienced by someone who exhibits no personality, a story of self-discovery in which there's no self to discover.
Ben Kenigsberg - Time Out Chicago
Salles may have pulled off the achievement of faithfully adapting Kerouac's novel, but... you might find yourself wishing for a little less literary fidelity and a little more cinematic storytelling.
James Rocchi - The Playlist
Salles certainly can't be faulted for how he approached it. His "On The Road" has a real heartbeat, and it's a trip worth making.
Drew McWeeny - HitFix
Walter Salles' take is ultimately a failed attempt to adapt the unadaptable.
Simon Gallagher - Film School Rejects
The rebel yell of 'On the Road' now sounds muted and even a little embarrassing.
Dave Calhoun - Time Out
The characters heroically swig from bottles, smoke joints, have sex and become narcissistic, flatulent and boring in a way that isn't entirely intentional.