Critic Reviews



Based on 27 critic reviews provided by
For all its polish, Bonfire of the Vanities neither sustains the feverish, revolutionary energy nor reaches the visceral peak of Hi, Mom! But as major Hollywood pictures go, it can become stunningly hot-tempered, a quality most journalists are too quick to ignore.
The beauty of the Wolfe book was the way it saw through its time and place, dissecting motives and reading minds. The movie sees much, but it doesn't see through.
Time Out
What De Palma delivers is merely a mediocre yuppy nightmare movie, stylistically flashy but with little pace, bite or pathos.
The Bonfire Of The Vanities gets a lot of things right but they're largely negated by the colossal things it gets wrong.
A spectacular misfire from a director who should have known better.
Gross, unfunny...In adapting it to the screen, Mr. De Palma and Michael Cristofer, who wrote the screenplay, have made a series of wrong decisions that have the effect of both softening the satire and making it seem more uncomfortably racist than the Wolfe original.
So what was rich, journalistic and precisely observed is now overstated, under-textured and cartooned, in playwright/screenwriter Michael Cristofer’s witless screenplay. Certainly Wolfe’s canvas might lend itself to a broad approach, but broad like “Dr. Strangelove,” not broad like the Three Stooges.
Director Brian De Palma’s $45 million film version of the book is superficial, shopworn and cartoonish. On film, Bonfire achieves a consistency of ineptitude rare even in this era of over-inflated cinematic air bags.
One of the most indecently bad movies of the year.
It's a great-looking film with a great-looking cast, it had some of Hollywood's top talent behind the cameras, and a budget of more than $45 million, but it lacks bite and conviction and utterly failed to strike a single spark, much less catch fire.

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