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The Importance of Being Earnest

629 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Mistaken identity carried to lovely, ludicrous extremes. This crisp adaptation of Oscar Wilde's classic comedy stars Colin Firth (The Turn of the Screw) as an English dandy who pretends to be his own brother, Earnest. Enter his best friend, played by Rupert Everett (My Best Friend's Wedding), who's also being Earnest for effect. Embellish the elegant country estate with two saucy—not to mention confused—young ladies and Dame Judi Dench as formidable Lady Bracknell. The results: a fluffy soufflé of wit and Wildean wisdom. 1-1/2 hours.

Special Features

  • The Making of "The Importance Of Being Earnest"
  • Behind The Scenes

Product Details

  • Actors: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Frances O'Connor, Reese Witherspoon, Judi Dench
  • Directors: Oliver Parker
  • Writers: Oliver Parker, Oscar Wilde
  • Producers: Barnaby Thompson, David Brown, Uri Fruchtmann
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Miramax
  • DVD Release Date: November 12, 2002
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (629 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006JDVX
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,657 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Importance of Being Earnest" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Lulu on September 20, 2004
Format: DVD
After reading the reviews of this 2002 production of The Importance of Being Earnest here and elsewhere, I must say my expectations were fairly low. What a wonderful surprise awaited me. The fact that Oliver Parker chose to make a FILM, rather than a filmed play, seems to have upset a number of people. Nevertheless, he made savvy - if sometimes audacious - choices in adapting Oscar Wilde's oft-produced play for the cinema.

While most people agree that Ernest is one of the wittiest plays in the English language, I find that stage productions of it have an unfortunate tendency towards being precious: smug actors smirk at one another as they affectedly recite epigrams in between sips of tea (pinkies out, naturally). Parker's film nicely sidesteps this potential problem by transforming the prototypical English drawing-room comedy into a dynamic, visually rich and marvelously acted film. You also may be pleased to know that the oft-heard caviles regarding Reese Witherspoon's English accent are completely unwarranted. Highly recommended.
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83 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 1, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
This is an inventive and artful production of Oscar Wilde's play, but I can confidently say that were Oscar Wilde alive today, he would be appalled at the misuse to which his play has been put. Indeed I think I feel the ground rumbling as he rolls over in his grave, and yes he is actually spinning in anguish.

Oliver Parker, who directed and wrote the screen adaptation, simply misinterpreted the play. He focused on the "dashing young bachelors" when the real focus of the play is Lady Bracknell, the absurd and beautifully ironic representation of the Victorian mind who was then and has been for over a hundred years Wilde's singular creation and one of the great characters of English literature. She is supposed to steal every scene she is in and we are to double take everyone of her speeches as we feel that she is simultaneous absurd and exactly right. Instead Judi Dench's Lady Bracknell (and I don't blame Dench who is a fine actress) is harsh and stern and literal to the point of being a controlling matriarch when what Wilde had in mind was somebody who was both pompous and almost idiotic yet capable of a penetrating and cynical wisdom (so like the author's). Compared to Dane Edith Evans's brilliant performance in the celebrated cinematic production from 1952, Dench's Lady Bracknell is positively one-dimensional.

The point of Wilde's play was to simultaneously delight and satirize the Victorian audience who came to watch the play. This is the genius of the play: the play-goer might view all of the values of bourgeois society being upheld while at the same time they are being made fun of. Not an easy trick, but that is why The Importance of Being Earnest is considered one of the greatest plays ever written.
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122 of 156 people found the following review helpful By Candace601 on November 24, 2002
Format: DVD
I cannot imagine a better cast for this film. That makes this dreadful travesty of Oscar Wilde's play even more appalling. Oliver Parker's hubris in thinking that he can improve on Oscar Wilde and one of the finest comedies in the English language is an outrage. He has cut some of Wilde's best lines, only to replace them with idiotic dream sequences, a ridiculous subplot involving Algernon's creditors, and even a hot-air ballon ride. Further, the production is heavy-handed and the music is just wrong.
All this pales in comparison to the overwhelming vulgarity of the scene in which Gwendolyn gets a tattoo, and fabricating a past as a chorus girl for Lady Bracknell. Mr. Parker clearly understands neither the characters, the play, nor Mr. Wilde himself. I can only conclude that his credit on An Ideal Husband is in error.
It is one thing to dig up Mr. Wilde's bones, but Mr. Parker has gnawed on them. He should be sentenced to a term in Reading Gaol for his overweening presumption and prohibited, by force if necessary, from ever again making another film.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. Combs on December 14, 2002
Format: DVD
Oddly unsatisfactory, despite spot-on casting in some roles. Firth, Everett and Dench are particularly good; but director Oliver Parker seems to have no faith in the brilliant wordplay that makes this unsubstantial comedy one of the greatest ever written. The bizarrely anachronistic touches, such as sexual aggression and tattooing, do not serve and in fact hurt the movie; Cecily's fantasy sequences are strange and disruptive; Reese Witherspoon and Frances O'Connor are respectable but not spectacular. Buy the original with the unforgettable Dame Edith Evans.
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78 of 104 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 3, 2002
Format: DVD
Any film that boasts, "Based on a play by Oscar Wilde, additional dialogue by" anybody at all immediately goes on my suspicious list. What, a screenplay ready-made by one of the wittiest playwrights of all time isn't good enough? Especially when the "additions" add unnecessary plot twists (Algie getting arrested? Lady Bracknell as a chorine? Hello?!) and, worst of all, change the ending. Rupert Everett exchanges his ebullient and suave persona, so admirably displayed in "An Ideal Husband," for a faded, dissolute air which he suddenly replaces with, yes, earnestness for the final scene. Dame Judi Dench, normally a comic delight, tanks all too many lines by stating them with enraged self-importance. Reese Witherspoon is lightweight--not entirely her fault, since the director cuts her lines and replaces them with bizarre dream sequences--and Frances O'Connor is simply unpleasant. Both women's roles were originally written as supremely practical EXCEPT for their strange fascination for a certain name; this movie makes that fixation the most sane thing about them. I am giving this movie one star solely for the presence of Colin Firth, whose modulated and occasionally exultant performance is as near to right-on as this movie will allow. Too bad he didn't get to deliver his penultimate line as Wilde intended; he would have done it well. Skip this film. Watch the witty and elegant Michael Redgrave version instead.
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