100

The New York Times

By Vincent Canby
A moving, intelligent and funny film about disasters that are commonplace to everyone except the people who experience them. Not since Robert Benton's "Kramer vs. Kramer" has there been a movie that so effectively catches the look, sound and temper of a particular kind of American existence.
Full Review
100

Time

By Richard Schickel
An austere and delicate examination of the ways in which a likable family falters under pressure and struggles, with ambiguous results, to renew itself. This is not very show-bizzy stuff, but for once, a movie star has used his power to create not light entertainment or a trendy political statement, but a work that addresses itself quietly and intelligently to issues everyone who attempts to raise children must face.
Full Review
100

Chicago Sun-Times

By Roger Ebert
Each character in this movie is given the dramatic opportunity to look inside himself, to question his own motives as well as the motives of others, and to try to improve his own ways of dealing with a troubled situation. Two of the characters do learn how to adjust; the third doesn't. It's not often we get characters who face those kinds of challenges on the screen, nor directors who seek them out. Ordinary People is an intelligent, perceptive, and deeply moving film.
Full Review
100

Variety

By Todd McCarthy
A powerfully intimate domestic drama, Ordinary People represents the height of craftsmanship across the board.
Full Review
90

Newsweek

If the film has a problem, it's a kind of excess of goodness at the expense of imaginative excitement. The real hero is the psychiatrist, played with a riffing Jewish beat by Hirsch as a counterpoint to the tight Wasp rhythms of Conrad's family. There's a feeling of therapy more than revelation, but perhaps for our multifariously sick society therapy has become revelation. This seems to have been a major point in Guest's novel, and Redford has dramatized it with integrity, honor and compassion. [22 Sept 1980, p.76]
Full Review
90

Los Angeles Times

An outstanding start to the fall season, reassuring in its quest for excellence and its deep concern for the family. It's a fine and touching piece of work for any season; in 1980, it is rain after drought. [21 Sept 1980, T1]
Full Review
88

Boston Globe

Moore's conception of the character is compelling. She rivets us. She's assisted by the superb performances Redford has elicited from her co- stars, Sutherland and Timothy Hutton, who plays Conrad, the guilt-ridden surviving brother of the dead boy. [26 Sep 1980]
Full Review
80

Empire

This is thoughtful and beautifully observed work, from the social backdrop and the tell-me-what-you're-feeling analysis sessions to the painful performances including Mary Tyler Moore playing against type as the chillingly repressed mother.
Full Review
75

ReelViews

By James Berardinelli
Whatever social statement Ordinary People was making about its time has evaporated during the intervening years, leaving behind an open, honest drama lacking the emotional punch that would make it unforgettable today. Ordinary People should be devastating, but it's not. By any standards, it's still a good movie, but three decades have stripped away any pretense of greatness. [21 Feb 1999]
Full Review
40

Chicago Reader

By Dave Kehr
The film looks austere and serious, rather as if it had been shot inside a Frigidaire, and the oppressiveness of the images tends to strangle laughter, even at the most absurd excesses of Alvin Sargent's script.
Full Review
85 out of 100
Universal acclaim
Metascore® based on all critic reviews. Scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.