Awfully Good: Citizen Kane

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

Citizen Kane (1941)

Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Dorothy Comingore


A rich white guy dies and everyone is super nosy about his last words.

(If TMZ was around, this movie would’ve been over in five minutes.)

In 1998, the American Film Institute declared CITIZEN KANE the greatest movie ever made. As a young cinephile, I searched out this elusive classic and prepared myself to be dazzled by cinema. NOPE. This movie blows. It’s boring, not interesting, not colorful, and dull. Maybe 75 years ago people cared about WHITE PRIVILEGE: THE MOVIE, but now only snobby film critics and scholars pretend to like it. Trust me, there’s a reason THE DARK KNIGHT and LORD OF THE RINGS are in the IMDB Top 10 and this overrated snore is ranked 65th. It sure as hell ain’t no FIGHT CLUB (#10!).

Yes, your reflection is in all the mirrors. We get it. You’re deep. 

Let’s start things off with a SPOIILER ALERT: The movie opens with the main character dying. That’s right, Citizen Kane croaks in the very first scene. It ruins the entire film and renders everything completely pointless. It would be like Bruce Willis appearing translucent in the beginning of THE SIXTH SENSE or Kevin Spacey wearing a nametag that says, “Hi, my name is Keyser Soze.” Now I know no matter what happens during these godforsaken two hours, Citizen will die alone with his snow globe, just like the kid from St. Elsewhere. 

I would rather watch OPERATION DUMBO DROP than this movie. 

Despite knowing exactly what happens to Citizen Kane, CITIZEN KANE insists on still telling his unnecessarily long life story. Here’s a hint: nothing happens and everything moves sooooo slooooooow. There are mentions of the Spanish-American War, but not one explosion or action scene from it. The main character is rich beyond his wildest dreams, yet the most exciting thing he does is buy an expensive statue. And the timeline is overly confusing—one second Citizen is old and the next he’s young. (Make up your mind, Welles! Clearly nobody taught you anything about structure.) Also, most of the movie takes place in Xanadu, but at no point do we see Olivia Newton John roller discoing with a neon Gene Kelly. 

“Hi, I’m standing too close to the camera!”

Orson Welles was only 25 when he made this and his amateur skills are very apparent. The script is filled with cheap gimmicks (the first 13 minutes are a newsreel, so essentially you get to watch half of the evening news during the movie) and unlikable characters. At one point someone mentions that Citizen Kane’s wife and kid were killed, but at no point during the movie do we see him give a f*ck. No crying, no screaming, no falling to his knees and cursing at God. And along those lines, the acting in this movie sucks too. The part where Welles overdramatically destroys a room is laughable. (Seriously, why is he so angry all the time? He’s rich!) There’s also this guy Mr. Thatcher who keeps looking directly in to the camera like a total jackass.

Could you not afford a third light?

And for a movie famous for its supposed innovations in filmmaking, I have to ask—what was so innovative about this? The fact that they couldn’t afford proper lighting? The cinematographer must’ve been Stevie Wonder given the number of times characters keep standing in shadows or uncomfortably close to the camera. What about the horrendous old age makeup? Because Welles spends a decent chunk of the movie looking like a deformed alien instead of an elderly person. (If you can’t afford Rick Baker, don’t do it!) I just don’t get all the fuss. If you want innovative, look at Bullet Time from THE MATRIX or that time Michael Bay invented the tiny camera that could swing through a keyhole in BAD BOYS II.

Alien Orson Welles is displeased with his makeup. 

And can we talk about the ending? What a let down. The sled… really? The goddamn sled?! The man had billions of dollars and all he cared about was a broke-ass toboggan from his youth. Completely ridiculous. If this movie was based in any kind of realism, Citizen Kane would’ve died surrounded by his loyal army of high-class prostitutes, IVs full of booze and KFC gravy, and enough narcotics to satisfy 1980s Orson Welles. Now that’s a movie that deserves to be AFI’s #1. 

The movie really could’ve done without all the random farting. Not sure what Welles was going for there.

None. See my above comment about the lack of prostitutes.  

Ask to see his birth certificate! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Someone says, “Rosebud”
  • The lighting is terrible
  • The makeup is terrible
  • Someone looks directly at the camera

Double shot if:

  • You have to listen to the lady sing

Happy April Fool’s Day to all!

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