The Best Of The Worst ‘Stonewall’ Movie Reviews: ‘Whitewashed,’ ‘Outrageously Misjudged,’ ‘An Insult’

by Erika W. Smith


The new movie Stonewall, out tomorrow, is supposed to be about the 1969 Stonewall riots, a landmark event in the fight for LGBT rights. The problem is….it’s not. At least, not recognizably.

The 2015 “Stonewall” movie is centered around fictional cis, white, gay character Danny Winters (Jeremy Irvine), putting the real, historic, iconic Stonewall activists — including people of color, transgender women, drag queens, lesbians and sex workers — firmly in the background in favor of a whitewashed love story.

Stonewall was directed by Roland Emmerich, the man behind over-the-top action movies like Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow and White House Down, so maybe it shouldn’t’ be surprising that his version of Stonewall isn’t exactly Oscar material.

Luckily, critics are recognizing just how awful Stonewall is. The film currently has just a 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. OUCH. We’ve rounded up the best of the worst reviews, because there’s nothing like a little well-deserved schadenfreude.


The Guardian: “Director Roland Emmerich once blew up the White House with a giant alien spaceship. In retrospect this was one of his subtler moments. Stonewall, an outrageously misjudged drama that flirts with the story of the birth of the gay rights movement, is much more grandiose.”

Vanity Fair: “Turns out, Stonewall is perhaps even worse than some feared it would be—more offensive, more white-washed, even more hackishly made. It’s so bad that it’s hard to know where to begin a catalogue of the film’s sins.”

Salon: “I think we need to file Emmerich’s ‘Stonewall’ – a well-intentioned, profoundly silly and borderline insulting movie – under the category of Yeah That Happened or perhaps God Reminding Us We Are Idiots, and then forget it as soon as possible.”

Variety: “While it’s encouraging to see such a subject treated with the same grandiosity afforded alien invasions, particularly at a moment when gay rights hold such currency, representation-starved audiences deserve more than this problematic collection of stereotypes.”

Deadspin:Stonewall has the opportunity to tell the story of a profound, pivotal moment in the history of gay rights in this country, and it not only fumbles it, it trips over it, then falls off a cliff, then sets itself on fire. It is a movie so baffling and wrong-headed and absurd that I honestly can’t believe it exists. I can’t fathom what anyone involved could have possibly been thinking.”

Autostraddle: “Here was our history, a history made real by Black and Brown trans women and lesbians, but it was a false, whitewashed and ciswashed version, a version that the establishment could find respectable enough to be a mainstream story. This was an insult. It’s an especially deep cut because there are still people alive today who were there, and people alive who were close with people who were there. We know what really happened and who really did the work, but this movie is spitting in the truth’s face.”

Images: Stonewall, Independence Day


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