Andrew Ferguson’s review published on Letterboxd:
This movie was just... bad. Just completely forgettable white bread shit with absolutely nothing of any real value to say.
I’ve heard Glenn Close was at least good in this, which, I guess? She was better than anyone else but that wouldn’t be particularly hard. Not Chris Pine was just bland in the lead and even Amy Adams fell foul to generic and poorly written dialogue, putting in a performance well below her usual high standard.
The cutting around between the main character’s childhood and adulthood just felt so haphazard and thrown together without any real purpose, which I suppose reflects well on how uneven that character was throughout too. I get that it’s supposed to show the hardships of his upbringing and how difficult it can be to succeed but all I ever got from those scenes was him being a bratty little kid. Despite genuine emotional neglect and trauma, all his problems still just felt so surface level to me through the poor writing, direction and performance. Plus his arc basically devolves into standard “work hard and you can achieve the American dream” fare, a trope which is just so played out and uninteresting to me now, as well as being unrealistic and harmful to perpetuate. It really feels like Ron Howard has never experienced poverty in his life and is doing his best to portray extreme poverty onscreen and the result is a cliché mess.
The biggest thing for me though is that I simply didn’t care about anything that was happening. It touches on themes of addiction and abuse and yet says absolutely nothing interesting about either. “Family is all you got”, like yeah, I can learn that from a Fast And Furious movie these days, give me a bit more please Ron.
Basically this was just bland Oscar-bait trash that uses depressing subject matter to pretend it has something interesting to say. Completely devoid of any sincerity or heart. This was gonna be a 1.5 star rating but writing this review has made me genuinely angry and I realise there’s basically nothing to redeem this for me.