Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Hudsucker Proxy

I grew up watching the Coen’s films before they were Oscar winners, when the world at large didn’t know who they were and a bizarre comic slant affected everything they made. The Coen’s make movies that make me happy; they may not be normal, they may not be logical, but the films are always spectacular and memorable. The Hudsucker Proxy is one of the Coen’s earlier films that I just had the pleasure of watching for the first time.

Old Mr. Hudsucker, founder of Hudsucker Industries decides to take a swan dive out of the board room window when the company is at its most profitable; the problem for Sidney Mussburger and the remainder of the Hudsucker board is that Mr. Hudsucker didn’t have a will, so all of his shares will go up for public sale in the new year and the board will lose all control of the company and profits if they lose those shares. The board hatches a plan, they will chose the worst president they can, let the stocks take a dive as public confidence fails and then they will buy up Hudsucker’s shares themselves at insanely low prices. Luckily for Mussburger Norville Barnes has just arrived in the mail room and is eager to rise to high places. When Norville accidently causes an accident that almost causes Mussburger to plummet to his death as well Nussburger and the board decide he might just be the bumbling idiot to lead Hudsucker in the direction they wish to go.

I am going to be honest when I say that I am not sure I fully understood The Hudsucker Proxy, even for the Coen’s it’s pretty far out there, but I loved it just the same. It’s an insane romp of imagination, business ethics and the spirit of invention wrapped in a comedy by people that know how to entertain an audience – why wouldn’t that be enjoyable?

Watching this movie reminded me of how much I love Paul Newman. Newman played Sidney Mussburger, the most unscrupulous character in the film who would so anything he can to get ahead financially and he is the tormenting figure only Newman could play while still inserting class and style into the comedy.

The single best character in the film for me is Norville Barnes. Norville is an absolutely inexperienced character, fresh off the bus from middle America ready to make his mark in the bustling city of New York, New York, where dreams are made. His insistence from start to finish that his simple sketch that’s “you know, for kids” will revolutionize Hudsucker is both endearing and memorable. He’s the kind of character you get to root for and scorn through the process of the film as his ego gets too big and then is redeemed. Tim Robbins plays Barnes as a innocent, almost child-like character that is in the city without a protector and gets caught up in the ultimate game of “be careful what you wish for”.

However, what truly makes the Hudsucker Proxy a Coen film is the denouement. No one crafts an ending quite like Joel & Ethan. The ending to Burn After Reading may still be my favorite but The Hudsucker Proxy is classic Coen and should be seen. If you’ve never experienced the Coen’s movies before No Country for Old Men you need to correct that and correct it quickly. The Coen’s movies are too good to be missed.

Director: Joel Coen
Writers>: Joel & Ethan Coen
Norville Barnes: Tim Robbins
Amy Archer: Jennifer Jason Leigh
Sidney J. Mussburger: Paul Newman
Waring Hudsucker: Charles Durning
Moses: Bill Cobbs
Smitty: Bruce Campbell

Amy Archer: I used to think you were a swell guy. Well, to be honest, I thought you were an imbecile. But then I figured out you WERE a swell guy... A little slow, maybe, but a swell guy. Well, maybe you're not so slow, But you're not so swell either. And it looks like you're an imbecile after all!


Christina said...

I'm glad you saw it! Funny thing for me, I'm actually not generally a fan of the Coen brothers. I don't deny that their movies are made well, but they usually leave a sour taste in my mouth. But for whatever reason, I tried Hudsucker Proxy one day and I loved it! I think it's one of the most enjoyable movies I've seen in a while. :)

Adam said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly that the Coen Bros' movies are too good to be missed. That said, The Hudsucker Proxy's not one of my favorites of theirs. It's not bad, but I don't think it's "top-tier Coen." Still, I'd take a decent Coen movie over a lot of the other schlock that gets funded these days.

Have you seen Barton Fink?

Megan said...

Not yet. I am actually trying to get caught up on the earlier Coen Brother's movies. Netflix will be used!