Our Brand Is Crisis Review Roundup: Sandra Bullock's Latest Film "Doesn't Know What It's Selling"

George Clooney-produced political drama hits movie theaters Friday

By Samantha Schnurr Oct 29, 2015 5:10 PMTags
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According to the critics, Our Brand Is Crisis may be in need of a fixer. 

Boasting stars Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton, George Clooney as a producer and an ensemble cast that includes Anthony Mackie, Ann Dowd, Scoot McNairy and Zoe Kazan, this film would seem to be on the fast track to an overwhelming endorsement from critics. 

Bullock plays Jane Bodine, a political consultant with a haphazard blond dye job (hey, she's probably too busy to get to the salon), who's invited to Bolivia with a consulting firm meant to help save the campaign of a presidential candidate that's in...well, crisis. While she's eager to get the job done, she's motivated even further by the idea of beating her nemesis, Pat Candy (a bald Thornton) who's working for the other side. 

Directed by David Gordon Green with a screenplay by Peter Straughan, the plot draws its inspiration from a 2005 documentary of the same name about American political campaign marketing tactics at play in an international election.

While some critics argue Bullock and Thornton's on-screen chemistry doesn't disappoint, the script they're working with doesn't quite know what it wants to be. In short, "the comedy here isn't very funny and the drama isn't very sharp," said Entertainment Weekly's Chris Cashawaty.

Still, there's a level of "fearlessness," wrote the Chicago Tribune's Katie Walsh, that may sway viewers' minds. The film hits theaters nationwide on Oct. 30. 

Here's more of what the critics had to say:

"Quite possibly a sort-of bonus bestowed by Warner Bros. on star Sandra Bullock and co-producer George Clooney for having done Gravity, director David Gordon Green's latest unpredictable addition to his resume is offbeat and appealing on some levels but is neither as funny nor as trenchant as it might have been. It's fair to say this won't be one of Bullock's biggest grossers," said The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy. "The film feels half-baked, as if it were torn between being an all-out indictment of American meddling in South American political affairs and a scorchingly outrageous satire on politics in a neighborhood where no help is needed from yanquis where corruption is concerned."

"For a movie about political messaging, Our Brand Is Crisis doesn't know what it's selling besides Sandra Bullock's lusciously buttery dye job," added EW's Cashawaty. "It's just that the comedy here isn't very funny and the drama isn't very sharp. As the ruthlessly cynical 'Calamity' Jane Bodine, Bullock rises above the script when she's sparring with Billy Bob Thornton as a rival spin doctor. These two pros have been in enough movies to know how to have some fun even when nothing around them is working."

"The film is deeply cynical, and there's a fearlessness in that cynicism," the Chicago Tribune's Walsh continued. "This is undermined in the eleventh hour by an implausible change of heart that feels tacked on to please focus groups and give the film a Hollywood ending. While Jane gets the hero's redemption, she's far more interesting when she's not being a hero."