Water for Elephants Reviews

  • From scene to scene, and plot point to plot point, nothing connects. Pattinson, Witherspoon, and Waltz perform in separate rings of their three-ring circus.

    Lisa Schwarzbaum — Entertainment Weekly

  • Short-circuits the novel's quirky charms and period atmosphere by its squeamish attitude toward gritty circus life and smothers the drama under James Newton Howard's insufferable wall-to-wall musical soup.

    Stephen Holden — New York Times

  • The script by Richard LaGravenese, who is well-versed in adapting popular fiction such as Bridges of Madison County, lacks the sparkle of his best work.

    Claudia Puig — USA Today

  • You know where the thing is headed. Still, it's fun to watch.

    Michael O'Sullivan — Washington Post

  • The movie strips away both the grand weirdness of the circus and the dire desolation of the Depression. Diane Arbus and Dorothea Lange are exchanged for Vanity Fair.

    Wesley Morris — Boston Globe

  • Director Francis Lawrence and writer Richard LaGravenese replicate just enough of the novel's fantasy to keep audiences involved, even if the results hardly add up to the most spectacular show at the cineplex.

    Elizabeth Weitzman — New York Daily News

  • How do I count the ways this movie goes wrong?

    Joe Morgenstern — Wall Street Journal

  • Can the film live up to Sara Gruen's best-selling novel, an adored word-of-mouth phenomenon? [Yes.]

    Joy Tipping — Dallas Morning News

  • Water For Elephants is not, to borrow the Benzini Bros. Circus' motto -- "the most spectacular show on Earth." But it is a class act.

    Lisa Kennedy — Denver Post

  • If basking in the simulacrum of [Pattinson's] need-filled gaze is your bag, then by all means...

    Glenn Kenny — MSN Movies

  • The movie rather embarrassingly sells chastity in the midst of what feels like a lawless situation. It's handsomely mounted but timid.

    David Denby — New Yorker

  • In an age of prefabricated special effects and obviously phony spectacle, it's sort of old-fashioned (and a pleasure) to see a movie made of real people and plausible sets.

    Roger Ebert — Chicago Sun-Times

  • Like "The Notebook," but with an elephant, the unexpectedly good film version of "Water for Elephants" elevates pure corn to a completely satisfying realm of romantic melodrama.

    Michael Phillips — Chicago Tribune

  • What with its big, lush close-ups of the principals, Rodrigo Prieto's moody, humidor-brown cinematography, and the life-is-a-circus emotionalism, Water provides the basic movie-movie pleasure of beautiful people struggling their way out of ugly situations

    Carrie Rickey — Philadelphia Inquirer

  • "Water for Elephants" balances the colorful glitz of a three-ring spectacle with the atmospheric realism that a rich drama demands.

    Colin Covert — Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • Witherspoon sparkles appropriately, Waltz is indeed one scary dude and Pattinson acquits himself well enough, although he leans too much on grinning as a default reaction.

    Tom Long — Detroit News

  • Add romantic chemistry to the list of things that fall flat in the film, alongside dialogue and acting.

    Bill Goodykoontz — Arizona Republic

  • A splendid period swooner that delivers classic romance and an indelible insider's view of 1930s circus life.

    Peter Debruge — Variety

  • Usually, you have to wait for the end-of-the-year awards season to see an elaborate period piece that fails as spectacularly as "Water for Elephants."

    Lou Lumenick — New York Post

  • [Witherspoon and Pattinson] are game, but the pulse between them approaches Dracula's resting heart rate.

    Peter Howell — Toronto Star

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