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3.7 out of 5 stars32
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 16 May 2013
I still can't understand, after all these years, why this film was and still is so underrated. To me is one of De Palma's masterpieces, where you can enjoy all his talents but still you breathe all the focused and cruel genius of Tom Wolfe and his best book. Not to mention that the adaptation of the book is brilliant and manges to keep the core and the best of it in a just 2 hours movie, even adding some moments that were not present in the books but sound absolutely brilliant, coherent and useful to carry on the story. Actors are funny and acting direction absolutely perfect, both in comical timing, and in the way actors approach their characters: just pathetic masks of a pathetic society. Maybe it was so attacked and badly received, at those times, because it tells you some unconvenient truth about American society and Capitalistic Establishment. Too unconvenient
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on 25 September 2002
Bonfire of the vanities is clearly an underestimated movie. Tom Hanks and his mistress, Melanie Griffith, lose their way and accidentially kill a boy. Hanks gets the responsibility in order to hide his secret affair, but finds himself in the middle of a head hunt. Everybody wants this young, rich, succesful, guy's head for different reasons and the outcome is really satirical.
Great director Brian de Palma lets Hanks to mess things up, tells the story mostly from the eyes of a rotten journalist played by Bruce Willis and sums it up with a good final.
Tom Hanks in the middle of his filmographie, is not as powerful as in Philadelphia, Forrest Gump or Saving Private Ryan but this movie is certainly a step forward. In Bonfire of the Vanities you can see the coming performances after his immature acting stuff in movies like Big, The Man With One Red Shoe or Bachelor Party.
Melanie Griffith in one of her best performances, plays the selfish mistress who does anything to buy her way out. Bruce Willis is as usual. If you like him as David Addison in Moonlighting series, then you wont be disappointed with this one.
Solid performances from experienced actors like Morgan Freeman, Saul Rubinek and Donald Moffat is also welcomed. Dave Gruisin's musical score is good.
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VINE VOICEon 23 July 2004
when i first started watching this film i thought it was going to be very boring and long but i have to say that i found this film really funny and was laughing from half way through to the end. its not a great film but if you are up for some comedy and an average storyline its really good. Tom hanks is really good in it and so is Bruce willis. so watch this film like i said if you are up for a bit of a laugh.
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on 20 September 2010
well worth the watch.. even if you've read the book first !.. although the story line is a bit different from the book it actually offers an alternative final scenario which is either more.. or just as fitting. I thoroughly enjoyed both and found the characters portrayals great fun, witty, and believable. Good fun with a sting in the message .. well worth it
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on 8 February 2008
Personally, I watched the movie without having read the book, which could be seen as both a good and a bad thing. On one hand, it allows me to judge the film as exactly that - a film, with no other conflicting point of reference to cloud my opinions. On the other, it means I'm pretty much ignorant as to whether or not the screen version succeeds or fails in living up to its story's potential. 'The Bonfire Of The Vanities' is a good film: nothing more, nothing less. So why, then, was it so universally slated by critics at the time of its big screen release? The answer, it would seem, is the overwhelming popularity of the piece of literature it was based on, Tom Wolfe's novel of the same name.

This movie is played on the borderline "tragedy and comic" the result, in my opinion, is a very interesting mix of ironic situations. Sherman McCoy (Tom Hanks) is on top of his game and is the top dog in one of the top financial firms in the city. He has money in spades, a socialite wife, a Park Avenue apartment, a mistress and a very nice car. While out with that same mistress Maria (Griffith) in that same expensive car, Sherman takes a wrong turn and ends up in the Bronx where, in a moment of panic at being confronted by crowds of African Americans, Maria suddenly hits a black man and they drive off back to normal white society. Sadly for Sherman, this minor incident escalates when the boy goes into a coma and his car is identified as the one involved, Add to this a DA who desperately needs to win the ethnic vote by prosecuting a rich white person and a journalist who, desperate to get off skid row, talks up the story with a series of sensationalist headlines that twist the truth. As these factors all come into play, Sherman's tidy, rich, world starts to crumble.

Griffith is great along with Tom even though he didn't win anything his performance is good. Bruce Willis is very funny as an alcoholic reporter who follows this New York scandal, I know we all like Bruce in action movies but he does well on this job. Morgan Freeman really catches your attention as an no-nonsense judge, seem suited to their roles. Really the plot in this movie is odd but watch it you see how it develops and relates to the lifestyles of the characters. I know that Brian DePalma has done better than this but remember many times a novel doesn't do well on the big screen. Again, "The Bonfire of the Vanities" was an '80s story based on a Tom Wolfe bestseller so don't blame Brian he done as good a job possible the cast had plenty of talent and that's why this movie is great and out of the ordinary.
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on 28 December 2015
What can I say did not read the book so did not do a compare job, thought this was a great and thoughtful movie with great acting and the director examines via the film ideas around the lives of the rich and the poor living in close proxmity yet keeping seperate,from penthouse to street life just a wrong turning of the main road away.There is humour some of it dark Tom hanks is great as a high flyer whos life is on the verge of greater sucess and then ruined in the space of a few days.This film also looks at at motives of central characters,politicians,religous leaders news editors,news reporters, this is a big glossy looking movie a couple of silly scenes Mr Willis falling around as the boozed up news hack who is hurried to stardom by revealing someone else`s misfortune, does not spoil this movie for me I enjoyed this movie a lot cant see why Brian Depalma`s film is given such bad reviews and even after 15 years it is still very watchable.
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on 29 May 2016
Casting Bruce Willis as Peter Fallow is warning enough.

All sense of drama has been removed and replaced with a light hearted farce-style production of Sergeant Bilko plus light jazzy incidental music. If you like that sort of thing (and hate the brilliance of Tom Wolfe) then this is for you.

Calling this film “The Bonfire of the Vanities” is meaningless.

The entire scene (the only really funny scene in the book) of the death in the restaurant, is missing.

The bond trading room is just a longshot of lots of people milling around. The drama, the sudden wall of noise, the tight, technical talk is all missing i.e. the Master of the Universe is a whimp.

The brilliant Italian/Irish/Jewish/protestant theme is missing.

The fall from Master-of-The-Universe to Street-wise-man is missing.

The attempt to stick to some of the original book just makes it more confusing as a film (to someone who has not read the book).
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on 2 December 2009
I read the reviews before ordering this DVD. It appeared that those who had not read the book loved it and those who had read the book thought the film a disappointment. I read the book first. The book is far more complex, pertinent and witty than the film but I think the film stands on its own as a well acted comedy. Because I knew that Tom Hanks took the lead in the film, as I read the book I actually saw him throughout in the part of Sherman McCoy, Master of the Universe - perfect casting! The Bruce Willis role was certainly adapted and changed from the book - but, in my opinion, it works in the context of the film - after all the book does have more than 700 pages - that would make for a rather long film! A highly recommended piece of entertainment.
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on 11 October 2013
Just finished reading the book. This film bears only a passing resemblance to the novel, Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis are both mis-cast. Might be okay if you haven't read the book.
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on 10 April 2005
I've read several times that the film of the Bonfire of the Vanities is nothing when compared to Tom Wolfe's original book, but even so for those, like me, who have never read the book, the film version is an awfully clever piece of satirical film making.
The story takes characters from all avenues of New York life and then basically picks holes and mocks each and every one of them. From the hustle and bustle of the "greed is good" Wall Street traders to the "Practise what I preach, not what I do" of the corrupt gospel church leader. From the sycophantic friendships of the well healed to the self-serving attitudes of the gold digging lover.
Some of these characters do have a tendency to become slight caricatures of themselves but the film in general never slips into the realms of fantasy.
The main leads are on the whole well played. Certainly Tom Hanks gives a good account of himself and makes the audience swing from distaste to sympathy with his character. Melanie Griffiths is probably the best out of the three headline acts even though personally I cannot stand the woman and cannot for the life of me work out why she is (or was) considered a beauty? Most disappointing is Bruce Willis who brings nothing to his character when the role could have really been developed and made more of.
But the real beauty in the film lies with the actors in more minor roles. Pick of the bunch is probably Morgan Freeman, but lesser known actors such as Saul Rubinek as the Assistant district Attorney and John Hancock as the Reverend Bacon really put in some good work.
All in all the film has some cracking one-off scenes and is well worth a watch.
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