The Pelican Brief
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Embroiled in an affair with Thomas Callahan (Sam Shephard), her alcoholic professor, precocious 24-year-old Tulane University law student Darby Shaw (Julia Roberts) writes up an insightful theory about the recent murder of two Supreme Court justices, one of whom, Abraham Rosenberg (Hume Cronyn), served as Callahan's mentor. When Callahan shares this so-called "Pelican Brief" with buddy Gavin Verheek (John Heard), an FBI lawyer, the document makes its way to White House flack Fletcher Coal (Tony Goldwyn), who believes it could topple the current administration. When Callahan is… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 52%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"It's too bad that Pakula allows this 1993 movie to dawdle after its climax, but prior to that he's adept at suggesting unseen menace and keeping things in motion."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"As the film piles on shovelfuls of further exposition, Mr. Washington and Ms. Roberts are left to look terrific and recite perfunctory lines."
‑ Janet Maslin, New York Times
"A routine thriller, curiosuly disappointing from Alan Pakula that even stars like Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts can't rescue"
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"If only The Pelican Brief were purposefully controversial."
‑ Walter Chaw, Film Freak Central
"You'd think that Pakula would be just the man to tease the intellectual and emotional depth out of a Grisham potboiler, but you'd be wrong. [Blu-ray]"
‑ Peter Canavese, Groucho Reviews
"Pakula has improved on Grisham's book by excising much of the detritus, crafting a taut, intelligent thriller that succeeds on almost every level."
‑ Brian Lowry, Variety
"A brightly wrapped, ketchup-drenched mush-burger, it slides down the Zeitgeist esophagus like a slippery McPelican. You pay, you swallow, you drive home. You're left with nothing except, possibly, heartburn."
‑ Desson Thomson, Washington Post
"Talky political thriller won't engage kids."
‑ Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
"A shallow bore."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"A curiously disappointing thriller from Alan Pakula, reaffirming the notion that John Gresham's best-selling novels are more fun to read (at the airport) than watch on the big screen, even if they star Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts."
‑ Emanuel Levy, Screendaily
"An old hand at this sort of thing, Pakula goes through the motions, but not much more."
‑ Derek Adams, Time Out
"A clever device to take your mind off your problems for 141 minutes."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"If I would still call it one of Pakula's very best films since the end of the 1970s, that says far more about the decline of his career than anything else."
‑ Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"This is a standard Grisham pot-boiler."
‑ , Film4
"Definitely an easy rental and a good way to drown a couple of hours if you're looking for a little suspense, some law stuff, lotsa secondary players and a couple of renowned leads delivering the goods."
‑ JoBlo, JoBlo's Movie Emporium
More reviews for The Pelican Brief on Rotten Tomatoes

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