The War of the Roses (1989) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The War of the Roses (1989) is the story of the divorce of the Roses, Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, narrated by Danny DeVito. DeVito (who also directed) is a divorce layer, and tells the story to a prospective client, to show him what divorce can be like. My favorite portion of the story was the first few minutes, when Douglas and Turner meet, jump into bed, and get married. Douglas works his way up to senior partner in his law firm, while Turner raises two kids and decorates the perfect home. Once the kids are ready for college, Turner turns to new interests. She starts a catering business, and decides she wants Douglas out of her life, and out of her house. Douglas fights her, hence, the War of the Roses.


Turner wears a transparent wet white blouse when Douglas meets her, then has a two frame nip-slip in bed with him later that day.
Turner is deliciously evil and vindictive, but there were far too few laughs for me.  The DVD transfer is good, but not perfect, with a little color noise in the darker scenes, but it delivers on special features, with deleted scenes, photos, commentary, and more.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Commentary by director Danny DeVito

  • Theatrical trailer(s)

  • Deleted scenes

  • Computer sketches

  • Storyboards and still galleries

  • Widescreen anamorphic format

Scoop's notes:

It is a movie which was crafted well and photographed imaginatively, but is nonetheless one of the most totally unappealing and irritating movies ever made. It was marketed as a black comedy, only because they didn't know what else to call it. It isn't really funny at all, just vicious, angry, and bitter. The viciousness is clever, as is the dialogue,  but that doesn't necessarily translate to laughter.

It received quite excellent reviews, but it's basically a critic-proof movie. How can you criticize it? It's literate, it's slick, it's well acted and photographed. Would you like to have dinner with a brilliant, attractive person who has lots of clever thoughts and is completely unpleasant to everyone? If your answer is yes, this is your movie.

The Critics Vote

  • Critical consensus: three stars. Ebert 3/4, Apollo 82/100, BBC 3/5

  • The film, Douglas, and Turner all received Golden Globe nominations

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it  6.4/10, Apollo Users 49/100
  • with their dollars ... US gross was $83.7m, rentals have added another $40 million


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+, with the warning that the battle is so fierce and relentless that it is dark humor at best. (Scoop says: "It is a good movie, in the sense that it is well-made. Notwithstanding that fact, I hated it."

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