Glenn Kenny
July 08, 1994 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Pelican Brief

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
Wide Release Date
12/17/93
performer
Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Tony Goldwyn, John Heard, Cynthia Nixon, Sam Shepard
director
Alan J. Pakula
author
John Grisham
genre
Mystery and Thriller, Drama

We gave it an C-

Remember when man-and-woman-on-the-run chase thrillers were witty and fun? Well, keep remembering. The Pelican Brief is a bloodless bore that pays lip service to affirmative action by making its pursued couple an interracial one (Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington), then shows its craven hand, letting nary a meaningful glance pass between them. And that’s the least of its sins. The others? Well, it’s overlong, and its take-me-seriously script weighs down a supporting cast (Robert Culp, John Lithgow, and Hume Cronyn, among others) who could have done watchable work had they been given something to work with. C-

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