Burn After Reading DVD

Theatrical Release Date: 09/12/2008
DVD Release Date: 12/21/2008
Directors: Ethan & Joel Coen
Cast: George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, J.K. Simmons

The Film:

“Burn After Reading” is both a look at remarkably dumb, middle-aged people and an exceptional spin on the espionage genre. The Coen brothers are master craftsmen and this film is yet another example of that.

This time around, they’ve assembled yet another fabulous cast that includes John Malkovich, George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins and Tilda Swinton – amongst many others in great supporting roles. The film isn’t so much plot driven, as it is an examination of these less superior intellects as they unravel a possible leak of classified information.

The cast clearly enjoyed riffing off one another and dove headfirst into their characters. Their interactions are hilarious, uncomfortable and full of wit/stupidity all at once. While this year provided comedies I much prefer to watch multiple times, this is one for film aficionados to make sure to catch and, of course, any Coen brothers’ fans.

From the set design, to the clothing, to the casting, to the script, to the actors, to the editors and on and on – everything is top notch. I can very easily understand people not necessarily finding this (or some of their other films) as enjoyable as I did. Their work has a style to it that may not rub everyone the right way. But the quality of their work is undeniable and while they can be a little hit and miss for me, I always look forward to seeing what they are up to and will continue to set such high standards for them in the future.

For my full review, click here.

The DVD:

This DVD made me question whether to give out the dreaded 0 out of 5 and I had to make a decision as to what qualified for that low of a rating. What it came down to is that I gave the DVD of “Burn After Reading” a single point for including a couple of extras that were interesting to watch. There is NO commentary. There are NO deleted scenes. There is NO gag reel. Had the three features included on the DVD been completely worthless, rest assured I’d drop the bag of hammers on this one (Blu-ray only adds connectivity to possible future additions or the ability to mash together your favorite scenes).


Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Anamorphic Widescreen 1:85:1.


English (for the hard of hearing); Spanish; French.


English; Spanish; French.

Extra Features:

Finding the Burn

—– A quick five and a half minute look at what it’s like to work with the Coen brothers, as well as a little bit on the genesis of the film.

DC Insiders Run Amok”

—– While the title infers a bit more energy than the actual featurette delivers, I did enjoy seeing each character get a brief synopsis. At the tail end of this feature, there is a brief mention of set design and some of the shooting locations but don’t expect them to go to any great detail.

Welcome Back George

—– Another quick feature (just under 3 minutes) about bringing George Clooney back for another round with the Coens. They love writing parts for George that require him to look like a moron and he enjoys playing them.

The Sobering Conclusion:

Look, the bottom line is that as much as I enjoyed the film, I would never recommend someone purchasing this initial edition. If, down the road, a special edition comes out that includes commentary tracks and a host of extra features, I could justify the expenditure. As it stands, this is purely a rental.