Burning Palms (film)

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Burning Palms
Burning Palms Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Christopher B. Landon
Produced by Oren Segal
Steven Prince
Jason Hewitt
Tyler Thompson
Vince Morella
Naz Jafri
Written by Christopher B. Landon
Starring Dylan McDermott
Shannen Doherty
Zoe Saldana
Lake Bell
Nick Stahl
Paz Vega
Music by Mike Desmond[1]
Cinematography Seamus Tierney
Edited by Gregory Plotkin
Distributed by Films In Motion
Release date(s)
  • April 23, 2010 (2010-04-23) (Newport Beach)
  • January 14, 2011 (2011-01-14) (United States:limited)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5,000,000 - $5,800,000
Box office $3,271[2]

Burning Palms is a 2010 satirical thriller film based on Los Angeles stereotypes told through five intertwining storylines. The film is the directorial debut of screenwriter Christopher B. Landon.[3][4]


The film explores satires of Angeleno stereotypes, which are told through five interlacing stories.[3][4] The five intertwining segments are based on popular stereotypes of West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Westwood and Holmby Hills.[4] Each of the characters in the film confronts taboos and an uncertain, often darkly humorous, fate.[4] Producer Oren Segal likens the film to "a John Waters version of Short Cuts",[4] a 1993 drama film directed by Robert Altman.


The Green Eyed Monster

Dedra Davenport (Rosamund Pike) meets the 15-year-old daughter (Emily Meade) of her fiancé (Dylan McDermott) for the very first time. However, she is soon disturbed by how unhealthy and bordering on incestuous the relationship between the two is.

This Little Piggy

Ginny Bai (Jamie Chung) agrees to participate in an unconventional sex act with her boyfriend Chad Bower (Robert Hoffman). Soon after she begins to slowly lose her mind when she cannot seem to get rid of an odd smell from her finger.

Buyer’s Remorse

A rich and well-recognized West Hollywood gay couple (Peter Macdissi and Anson Mount) decide to adopt a seven-year-old African girl (Tiara McKinney). They prove to be mentally unprepared for the challenges and risks involved in parenthood, especially since she is a decided mute who refuses to speak to them.

Kangaroo Court

A nanny (Lake Bell) for a group of neglected children comes to find some dangerous secrets about the live-in staff at their mansion home.


An unidentified man (Nick Stahl) breaks into the apartment of meek woman Sarah Cotton (Zoe Saldana), and rapes her. Sometime later she finds the man's wallet and is able to track him down and approach him with an unusual request.



Palms was scripted by Christopher B. Landon, who also wrote the 2007 thriller Disturbia. Palms will also mark Landon's directorial debut.[4]

Media outlets such as The Hollywood Reporter and TV Guide reported that the ensemble-driven indie feature will star Shannen Doherty and Dylan McDermott as well as Zoe Saldana, Lake Bell, Nick Stahl, Paz Vega, Adriana Barraza, Colleen Camp, Jamie Chung, Robert Hoffman, Peter Macdissi, Emily Meade, Anson Mount, Rosamund Pike, Austin Williams, Chandler George Brown, and Tom Wright.[3]

The film was shot in Los Angeles, California and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.[3] Oren Segal, Steven Prince and Jason Hewitt produced the film, and Tyler Thompson, Vince Morella and Naz Jafri were executive producers.[4]


Critical response[edit]

To date, the critical reception for the film has been largely negative. One critic described the film as being "one of the most offensive movies I’ve seen in the past decade", going on to say:

If there's a legitimate point to this film, then I missed it. I was distracted by how 'in your face' the story was at all times, all but begging us to be offended by its crassness and politically incorrect content. Watching this film is a miserable experience, and almost all of the characters are despicable. Even the ones we're supposed to care about are incredibly annoying.[5]

Andrew Schenker of Slant magazine gave the film just half of one star out of a possible four. Writing of the film:

Landon's deeply cynical method is to conjure up the most aberrant corners of humanity and then wallow around in his self-created muck looking to scavenge what little scraps of humor he can find.[6]

Gabe Callahan, of Poptimal.com, pointed out his theories as to why the film was such a disappointment:

Burning Palms has a lack of focus climatically as each story limps to their anti-climatic reveals.… For Landon’s directorial debut, Burning Palms is a movie that threatens to leave no taboo unexplored but the film seemed scared and hesitant of its own subject matter, and never takes the plunge into the deep end of dark and satirical film-making.

In this way the movie fails. The shocking parts are predictable, the funny parts fall flat, and the satire is non-existent. That is the core of the problem with Burning Palms: there is a fine line between satire and stereotypes. The film doesn't seem aware of this line as it tries its hardest to make a point about stereotypes and taboos. It fails miserably at making this point and just ends up being misogynistic and naïve. I would have loved to have been shocked and disturbed. Instead I had to settle for disappointed.[7]

The film currently only holds a 33% rating on Metacritic,[8] and a 29% "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[9]


  1. ^ Grierson, Tim. "Burning Palms". www.screendaily.com. Retrieved March 10, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Burning Palms". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Shannen Doherty, Dylan McDermott Join Burning Palms Ensemble Film". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Ensemble assembles for 'Burning Palms'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2008-11-02. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Review: Burning Palms". Filmonic.com. Retrieved 2011-06-11.
  6. ^ Schenker, Andrew (2011-01-09). "Burning Palms | Film Review". Slant. Retrieved 2011-06-11.
  7. ^ Callahan, Gabe (2011-01-17). "Burning Palms Movie Review". Poptimal.com. Retrieved 2011-06-11.
  8. ^ "Burning Palms Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. Retrieved 2011-06-11.
  9. ^ "Burning Palms Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-06-11.

External links[edit]