By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Two Beers) –
Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) is from a town nobody’s ever heard of, and graduated from a college nobody’s ever heard of, and he’s going to the big city to find a job. He quickly finds that very little work is available for someone without experience, eventually taking a job in the mailroom of conglomerate “Hudsucker Industries”. On this same day, CEO Waring Hudsucker leaps to his death while sitting in on a board meeting. The board, headed by Chairman Sidney Mussburger (Paul Newman), decides to exploit the incident for personal gain, by appointing a pawn as CEO who they can control. They select Norville, assuming his naiveté will make him the perfect stooge, but he has a big idea, and the blueprints to prove it…
We can work out the kinks in beta…
This film was a creative collaboration between the Coen brothers and Sam Raimi, and overall a successful one. The film uses clever satire and whimsical humor to poke fun at corporate bureaucracy. The Coens borrow visual elements of everything from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, mixing in a healthy portion of 50’s stereotypes.
With bonus Bruce Campbell goodness…
Paul Newman is at his comedic best as the gruff corporate tyrant plotting to take over the company. Tim Robbins is wonderfully clueless as the lead, in a hilariously exaggerated parody of the Midwestern small town persona. Jennifer Jason Leigh is also very fun to watch as the fast-talking reporter determined to get the true story on Norville.
Cinematographer Roger Deakins continued his collaboration with the Coens with striking visuals, and a thematic focus on clockwork. The concept of time dominates the film in many ways, not unlike Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, or Dark City.
Dark City handled it with more hilarity though…
The story ultimately doesn’t make as much of an impact as some of the Coen Brothers’ other works, perhaps due to the rather predictable story arc. It follows the formula of “little guy makes it big, and learns a lesson”, albeit with a few twists to keep things interesting. It is an exceptionally well-made film filled with many good moments, but compared against the Coen lexicon, Hudsucker comes up short. This one simply isn’t as boldly inventive or genre-defying as films such as Raising Arizona, Fargo, or Blood Simple. With that said, a 2nd tier Coen brothers film is still miles above nearly anything else out there, so take this criticism with a slice of lemon, a shot-glass of tequila, and a handful of salt.
If it isn’t a “great” movie, it certainly is one of the very best “good” movies out there.
Take a Drink: anytime someone mentions Muncie, Indiana
Take a Drink: for every shot of a clock
Do a Shot: you know… for kids