The Hudsucker Proxy: World’s Finest Corporate Espionage
THE HUDSUCKER PROXY
DIRECTED BY: Joel Coen
STARRING: Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Newman
COUNTRY: United States, United Kingdom
When Waring Hudsucker, head of hugely successful Hudsucker Industries, commits suicide, his board of directors, led by Sidney Mussberger, comes up with a brilliant plan to make a lot of money: appoint a moron to run the company. When the stock falls low enough, Sidney and friends can buy it up for pennies on the dollar, take over the company, and restore its fortunes. They choose idealistic Norville Barnes, who just started in the mail room. Norville is whacky enough to drive any company to ruin, but soon, tough reporter Amy Archer smells a rat and begins an undercover investigation of Hudsucker Industries.
This leads to frequent, and insightful, hilarity as Norville is named President and sets out on his journey to lead Hudsucker to success. Robbins is simply awesome as Norville, combining his genial, small-town boy charm with the sort of charismatic presence it actually takes to lead a big company. The role allows Robbins to balance straight acting with physical comedy, but also to dish out the ideals of the film with a gleam in his eyes. “The Hudsucker Proxy” skewers big business like few films ever have done successfully. The film is possess with satire, downright nasty satire wrapped in the prettiest of packages like only a Coen could possibly create.
The reason for this, in a nutshell, is that The Hudsucker Proxy is not a good movie. I know that it has its defenders. And honestly, having not seen it in many years, I expected it to be, upon re-viewing, a modestly pleasant surprise relative to its poor reputation. It wasn’t. Like all Coens’ films it has notable strengths, most of them technical. But on a fundamental level, the homage/satire of 1930s-era screwball comedies simply doesn’t work. It’s too arch, too hyper-stylized, too one-note, and, as a ’30s-era movie set in the late ’50s, too contextually schizophrenic.
- Solid satire.
- Main cast performance.
- Strengths are mainly technical.
- Over hyper-stylized,
SCORE: 5.5 / 10
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