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Flowers for Algernon

4.1 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

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(Nov 18, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

This is the touching story of a gentle, mentally-handicapped man who faces the chance of a lifetime and the hard changes that come with it. After undergoing experimental brain surgery to increase his intelligence, Charlie (Matthew Modine, Have Dreams, Will Travel; TV's Weeds) is emboldened with his newfound genius, but finds himself questioning the value of his intellect and struggling to accept his former self. He confides in Algernon, a lab mouse who has had the same procedure, and his teacher, Alice (Kelli Williams, TV's The Practice), who he begins to fall for. Adapted from Daniel Keyes' timeless novel, Flowers for Algernon is an acclaimed drama of self-discovery, the unbreakable bonds we form with those who understand us, and the capacity we hold to change.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Matthew Modine, Kelli Williams, Ken James, Bonnie Bedelia, Jeff Pustil
  • Directors: Jeff Bleckner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 18, 2008
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001GM6C44
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,663 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am an eighth grade Language Arts teacher, and my class reads "Flowers for Algernon" each year. Our school has a copy of the old video "Charly," but I really don't like it, especially since I have to watch it three times in a day. I took a chance on this new one, never having seen it before showing it in class. It is much more enjoyable. First of all, it is a more modern style of videography (no split screens or long montages). It also has no drug referrences. It does have implicit sexual activity, but it is not violent, like in the old version. My kids all enjoyed this movie. They laughed at different parts, and it was easy for them to identify the characters after having read the short story. I do recommend this video to anyone who enjoyed the story.
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I have been looking for this ever since the VHS recording that I loaned out to a fellow teacher never made it back to me.

This version is so much more appropriate for the middle school level than "Charly" (i.e. drug and sexual innuendo).

I have a shortened version of the story I use in my textbooks with my students. This movie is a much better fit than "Charly."
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I'm going to reveal the ending of this film (more or less), since it's the point of my review. Please stop reading if you want to be surprised.

And the message of my review is: please don't watch this film if you like happy endings. It's a VERY good film; but it ends with the hero doomed to failure, yet unaware and determined to keep trying. I think that makes him a noble, tragic character; but for some people, the ending will be just too sad.

And in that way, this film is an excellent translation of the short story, which has the same noble but tragic ending. And in my opinion, it's far better than its predecessor, Charly, that psychedelic 60s relic. As a fan of the short story and of Cliff Robertson, I had high hopes for that film, and was disappointed by its rambling, disjointed story. (Later, I read the novel, and forgave the film a little bit: like the film, the novel is rambling and disjointed. The short story is better, tighter, and more moving.) Though I scarcely know Matthew Modine's work, I'll look for it in the future. He is a far more convincing Charlie Gordon, both as a struggling low intellect and as a troubled genius.

It has been a couple decades since I read the short story, and longer since I read the novel. I'm sure this film probably falls between the two (I don't think the short story included the subplot with Charlie's mother); but it feels like a lot of the fluff from the novel was trimmed out. The result is just about ideal for a 92 minute film, with nothing I would sat needs cutting, and no questions unanswered or character motivations unexplained.

If there's a weak spot in this film, it's the teacher, Miss Kinnian.
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Format: DVD
I read "Flowers for Algernon" more than a few years ago, have seen "Charly," and just read the short story version for the first time. I saw this adaptation when it came out on T.V., and as soon as it came out on DVD, I snatched it up and have seen the movie around 10 times since then. Needless to say, I love the story "Flowers for Algernon," and I like this movie the most.

Because it's a made-for-tv movie, it's not as polished-looking as bigger-budget movies, and timewise, could be longer for character development and to flesh out the story more. However, for what it is, the movie was very well done.

I thought this "Flowers" made Charlie Gordon more sympathetic than both the Charlie in "Charly" and the book. This Charlie was more like the Charlie in the short story version, and I thought the writers made a good call by making him less aggressive and tragic than in the book and 1968 movie. They focused more on the sentimental themes without sacrificing the main theme of the relationship between intelligence and acceptance. For example, Charlie and Alice's relationship was realistic in the sense that we can see why Alice would like Charlie after the operation. In the book and the 1968 movie...those reasons were lost on me. The ending to this movie was also a perfect balance of sad and sweet, and continues to make you wonder long after the credits finish rolling.

In addition, I would like to add that I thought all the actors were great in their roles, especially Kelli Williams. Her performance was very natural, with the perfect amount of depth and feeling. Matthew Modine was also good as Charlie, though sometimes I questioned his portrayal of a mentally impaired guy. In my opionion the actors who played his classmates did a better job of it.
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I will admit to being a little leery when a favorite story of mine gets adapted to the screen (be it a movie or TV), and "Flowers for Algernon" is on my top five list of best short stories of all time (the novel is another matter entirely). While I understand that no story survives this transition completely intact or unaltered, this movie should be used as a case study of what not to do when making an adaptation: everything that made the original such a heart-breaking record of Charlie Gordon's rise and fall has been gutted from this script. Charlie is barely sympathetic in this rendition, and Matthew Modine's lackluster performance is just the rancid icing on the tasteless cake. Avoid this one at all costs.
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