‘Ides Of March’: The Reviews Are In!

Critics argue that script doesn't match the talent level of the A-list cast in George Clooney's political drama.

George Clooney returns to the director’s chair for the first time since 2008′s “Leather Heads” in one of the first big releases of Oscar season with “The Ides of March.”

But then again, we might just be interested in Ryan Gosling’s third major role this year. Everything about “Ides of March,” from the critically lauded cast and director to the political story line seems to scream for awards season attention, but does it live up to high expectations? Critics can’t seem to agree, but the general consensus is that the script doesn’t meet the talent level of the cast, which is pretty fantastic all around.

We’ve rounded up some of the reviews to give you a better idea of what to look for this weekend at the movie theater.

The Story
“Mr. Gosling’s consultant, Stephen Meyers, would seem to be a true believer. Speaking of his candidate, Gov. Mike Morris (Clooney), he tells a reporter, played by Marisa Tomei, ‘He’s the only one who’s going to make a difference in people’s lives.’ (At that point it’s hard to know if this is true, or if the movie thinks it’s true, since some of Morris’s positions — i.e. that we don’t need Arab oil any more — sound awfully fatuous.) And Steve’s boss, Paul Zara, the campaign manager played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, would seem to be cynicism incarnate. The problem is that the news the story brings may be perfectly accurate, but it isn’t particularly original, and it’s certainly not what we hunger for in these dispiriting, cynical times.” — Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal

The Direction
“Clooney has a keen eye for a good story. With this, his fourth turn as a director, he has chosen wisely. While perhaps not as nuanced as 2005′s ‘Good Night, and Good Luck,’ it’s more assured than 2008′s ‘Leatherheads’ and more accessible than 2002′s ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.’ It grows a little overheated but works particularly well as a morality tale about power and its tendency to corrupt absolutely.” — Cynthia Puig, USA Today

The Screenplay
“What is surprising, and disappointing, is that the plot borrows, not once but twice, from the hoariest tropes in the book of smug clichés. The effect is to cheapen all the hard-earned realism. Contemporary American politics does a fine job of cheapening itself — the script doesn’t need this melodramatic varnish.” — Rick Groen, Globe and Mail

The Ryan Gosling Factor
“The movie’s strength is in the acting, with Gosling once again playing a character with an insistent presence. In roles as different as this one and ‘Drive,’ he has a focus that sees through others and focuses on his character’s goals. That intense conviction works in many ways; remember him in ‘Lars and the Real Girl,’ where he played a secretive loner who fell in love with a love doll and found this companion a help in re-entering society.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

The Supporting Cast
“Philip Seymour Hoffman tears it up as the governor’s gruff, no-nonsense campaign manager, a veteran who’s seen it all and still continues to come back for more. Paul Giamatti is reliably smarmy as Hoffman’s counterpart for the rival Democratic candidate, and watching these two acting heavyweights eyeball each other backstage at a debate provides an early, juicy thrill.” — Christy Lemire, The Associated Press

The Final Word
“Perhaps Clooney never quite realized that he had an old-fashioned story on his hands. ‘The Ides of March’ has a statement that is modern, but its dramatic structure is that of an old chestnut, and it needed to be directed accordingly, with the emotions jacked up. As it stands, the movie works in a ‘Yeah, that was good’ sort of way. There was more in that script to be had.” — Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

Check out everything we’ve got on “The Ides of March.”

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