When a disc filled with some of the CIA's most irrelevant secrets gets in the hands of two determined, but dim-witted, gym employees, the duo are intent on exploiting their find. But since blackmail is a trade better left for the experts, events soon spiral out of everyone's and anyone's control, resulting in a non-stop series of hilarious encounters!
According to costume designer Mary Zophres, even cheap suits look good on Brad Pitt . Thus, for the scene where his character Chad wears a cheap suit, she had to tailor a suit with a purposefully bad and ill-fitting cut and a horrid-looking wool tie.
The film was mostly shot in and around New York because the Coen brothers wanted to stay near their families and because George Clooney was working on another project in the area.
The characters are zany, the plot coils upon itself with dizzy zeal, and the roles seem like a perfect fit for the actors -- yes, even Brad Pitt, as Chad, a gum-chewing, fuzzy-headed physical fitness instructor. I've always thought of him as a fine actor, but here he reveals a dimension that, shall I say, we haven't seen before.
Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times.
It would be no country for movie lovers without the Coens. They still manage to run unmuzzled while the rest of Hollywood runs scared.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone.
This is a thriller with a high quotient of comedic elements or, if you prefer, a comedy with a high quotient of thriller elements. As is always the case with a production of Joel & Ethan, it's difficult to classify, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable.
James Berardinelli - Reel Views.
The Coens return to familiar territory with the parody thriller Burn After Reading, a characteristically supercilious and crisply shot clown show filled with cartoon perfs and predicated on extravagant stupidity.
J. Hoberman - The Village Voice.
It's clear that Burn After Reading is a wannabe cult favourite -- some viewers may embrace it; many more will just want to burn after watching.
Rick Groen - The Globe and Mail (Toronto).
The clubby, predictably self-amused comedy from Joel and Ethan Coen, has a tricky plot, visual style, er, to burn, but so little heart as to warrant a Jarvik 8.
Manohla Dargis - The New York Times.
Quirky, violent Coen comedy isn't meant for kids. What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this quirky comic thriller has much in common with others in the Coen brothers' canon: It's very funny and very violent. There's plenty of sex (though not much nudity) and swearing ("f--k"s galore), and characters drink, like, manipulate, and whatever else they need to do to promote their own selfish interests. But teens may still want to see it, both because it stars Brad Pitt and George Clooney and because so many of the Coens' previous comedies have become cult favorites (Fargo, Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski).
S. Jhoanna Robledo - Common Sense Media.