The War of the Roses

1989 Comedy Drama

Divorce lawyer Danny De Vito warns his prospective client that the story he's about to tell isn't a pretty one, but the client listens with eager intensity -- as do the folks out there in the movie in the audience. The War of the Roses can best be described as a slapstick tragedy concerning the decline and literal fall of a marriage. After 17 years, Oliver (Michael Douglas) and Barbara (Kathleen Turner) Rose want a divorce. Not for this couple is there anything resembling a "civilized understanding": Barbara wants their opulent house, and Oliver isn't about to part with the domicile. Barbara nails the basement door shut while Oliver is downstairs, Oliver disrupts Barbara's fancy party by taking aim at the catered dinner, Barbara lays waste to Oliver's sports car....and so it goes, culminating in a disastrous showdown around, about and under the living room's fancy chandelier. DeVito and screenwriter Michael Leeson never let us forget that the couple's self-indulgent imbroglio exacts an awful price upon their children (Sean Astin and Heather Fairfield). The War of the Roses was adapted from the novel by Warren Adler. more..

Director: Danny DeVito

Starring: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner,Danny DeVito, Marianne Sagebrecht,Sean Astin


  • Under the astute direction of Danny DeVito, who does a sly turn as Oliver's attorney, this acid-dipped epic of revenge is killingly funny and dramatically daring.

    Peter Travers - Rolling Stone

    11 May 2013

  • DeVito doesn't hesitate to send the camera anywhere to goose the humor.

    - Entertainment Weekly

    11 May 2013

  • DeVito films this tale with a fiendish gusto, yet with psychological realism and meticulous attention to an inexorable logic in the plotting, even as the Roses' war moves from the outlandish to the surreal.

    - TV Guide

    11 May 2013

  • Quite shocking, almost avant-garde in the way it constantly confounds expectations built up over years of formula pictures.

    - Empire

    11 May 2013

  • The movie treads a dangerous line. There are times when its ferocity threatens to break through the boundaries of comedy - to become so unremitting we find we cannot laugh.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    11 May 2013


  • Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases

    American Society of Cinematographers (1990)

  • Best Screenplay - Adapted

    BAFTA Awards (1991)

  • David Newman

    BMI Film & TV Awards (1990)

  • Danny DeVito

    Berlin International Film Festival (1990)

  • Best Casting for Feature Film, Comedy

    Casting Society of America (1990)