The Pelican Brief
The Pelican Brief (1993)

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… More

Directed By:
Rated: PG-13
Running Time:
Release Date: December 17, 1993
DVD Release Date: August 27, 1997
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Critic Score: 52% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews
Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader

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.

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Janet Maslin
New York Times

As the film piles on shovelfuls of further exposition, Mr. Washington and Ms. Roberts are left to look terrific and recite perfunctory lines.

Quentin Curtis
Independent on Sunday

It all sounds thrilling enough. So why is it so dull? Chiefly because of a central flaw in Grisham's writing, which Hollywood is unable to smooth out -- its grinding pedantry.

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Brian Lowry

Pakula has improved on Grisham's book by excising much of the detritus, crafting a taut, intelligent thriller that succeeds on almost every level.

Desson Thomson
Washington Post

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.

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Dennis Schwartz
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A juicy conspiracy theory thriller.

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Derek Adams
Time Out

An old hand at this sort of thing, Pakula goes through the motions, but not much more.

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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times

A clever device to take your mind off your problems for 141 minutes.

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Emanuel Levy

A routine thriller, curiosuly disappointing from Alan Pakula that even stars like Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts can't rescue

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More reviews for The Pelican Brief

Flixster Audience Score: 61% Flixster User Reviews
Nicki Marie
Not all that enthralling. Probably only of interest to Julia Roberts fans. Over long and hard to follow (or maybe just my attention kept drifting off).… More
Cassandra Maples
Based on John Grisham's best-selling novel. Darby Shaw (Julia Roberts) is a law student at Tulane who writes her own theory about who arranged for the… More
Derek Daniels
Made somewhere around the start of the mid-90's legal thriller craze (and most of those films were from John Grisham novels) The Pelican Brief is a film… More
Candy Rose
Good actors but poor plot. Hard to keep interested.
Dean King
A very good political conspiracy thriller with an outstanding cast. Based on the John Grisham novel. This is a entertaining film with a deep plot, it can be a… More
xGary Xx
Yet another dreary John Grisham legal thriller featuring a particularly uncharismatic Denzel who appears even more on autopilot than usual, and Julia Roberts… More