Love Ranch is based on the real-life story of the folks who in 1967 opened the Mustang Ranch in Nevada, that state's first legal brothel. It stars Helen Mirren as the ranch's madam -- and she gets far better critical notices than the movie itself. Stephen Holden in the New York Times remarks that Mirren imbues the character with "an empathy and toughness that have little connection to Mark Jacobson's prosaic screenplay." Lou Lumenick remarks in the New York Post that the movie, which also features Joe Pesci and is "well-acted but clumsy." Liam Lacey in the Toronto Globe and Mail says that anticipating watching Mirren playing a whore-house madam, he had hoped for a "ripe Mirren performance." However, he wrote, "She's undone by a weak script that leaves her flailing like an Olympic swimmer in a pool full of jelly." Likewise Michael O'Sullivan concludes in the Washington Post "Try though she might, Mirren can't save the hackneyed and singularly unerotic story." But Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle dispenses with the restrained criticism, pronouncing Love Ranch "a colossal bomb, an epic miscalculation, an excuse for actor self-indulgence and for what sounds very much like bad improvisation. The story lumbers along aimlessly until it finally arrives at 'who cares?'"