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A recent graduate from the Midwest heads to the big city in hopes of landing a high paying business job and getting the chance to manufacture his brilliant idea. While this seems like a good plot for a serious coming of age movie, The Hudsucker Proxy is as much a comedy as it is a cliché story idea.
Written and directed by the [now famous] Coen Brothers (No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski, and Fargo), and supported with an all-star cast of actors, The Hudsucker Proxy has the promise for an amazing movie, and surprisingly it delivers on that promise. Norville Barnes (played perfectly by Tim Robbins, best known for his role in The Shawshank Redemption) gets off the bus in the big city of New York ready to put his newly received business degree from Muncie, Indian, School of Business. Through a twist of fate only possible in the movies, Norville gets a job at Hudsucker Industries the same day Mr Hudsucker decides to jump out the 44th (45th if you count the mezzanine level) story window. The board decides to purposefully lower the stocks of the company so that they could afford to buy Mr. Hudsucker’s majority share. Looking to find a fall-guy, the interim board leader, Sidney J. Mussburger (also played brilliantly by the late, great Paul Newman) promotes Norville due to his moronic idea for a new invention…you know, for the kids! That invention happens to be the Hula-Hoop and soon the stocks of Hudsucker Industries are through the roof. A plan is devised to drag down both the company and Norville in order to again artificially deflate the stocks. Without giving away the rest of the plot, I warn you that the resulting plot twist and ending are so far out of right field that only the Coen brother’s could pull it off.
The script is really one of the reasons this movie is so enjoyable while being completely stupid. The dialog is perfect and complex solely for the reason of being complex. The acting is spot on and the delivery of both the lines and the characters is spot on. My only gripe with the movie is that the characters (and the movie) are meant to be a caricature of old time movies from the 1950′s. As a result there are scenes that feel a little too overly acted. This is most noticeable in the scenes with news reporter/secretary Amy Archer (played well but annoyingly by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Fast Times at Ridgemont High , Backdraft , The Machinist). While she was playing her role, her over the top performance is the reason I gave the movie four instead of five stars.
A few other movies with either similar comedy stylings or themes include:
- Visioneers (also recommended in my review for Metropolis)
- It’s a Wonderful Life
- O Brother, Where Art Thou?