Way back in 1994, before the Enron mess of 2001, the Coen Brothers (O Brother, Where Art Thou, Raising Arizona) released a fantastic film that looked at the great lengths corporations might go to in order to make a profit. Although no Enron executives took a flying leap off the conference room table and fell 44 floors (45, counting the mezzanine), this movie is still eerily accurate.
Tim Robbins plays Norville Barnes, a wet-behind-the-ears recent graduate from business school in Muncie, Indiana, who was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by his classmates. Due to a twist of fate (and a gust of wind), Norville ends up working in the mail room of Hudsucker Industries. At the exact moment he walks in the building, Waring Hudsucker (Charles Durning, O Brother, Where Art Thou?) takes a flying leap out the window.
Hudsucker’s death provides the board of directors an opportunity, as he had no family to inherit his shares. The board, led by Sidney J. Mussburger (Paul Newman, Slap Shot, a lot of other movies, and salad dressing), decides to drive down the company’s stock so they can buy it all up at a lower price and gain control. Their first plan is to hire a proxy president, an imbecile to panic the stockholders. They pick Norville, not recognizing he might actually be a great president.
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Single White Female, eXistenZ) plays the investigative, Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter Amy Archer who is out to prove Norville is a fraud. In my opinion, this is one of her best roles ever, as a “fast-talking career girl.” It’s too bad she wasn’t nominated for any award for her role in this movie.
The Hudsucker Proxy is part fairy-tale, part commentary, part tribute. The actors are all perfect for their roles. The sets and lighting are reminiscent of Tim Burton’s style. Although I don’t like Tim Robbins’ politics, I enjoy him as an actor, and this is one of his more endearing roles.
If you haven’t seen this movie, make a point to. I have yet to see it on DVD, but after my viewing this weekend, I will definitely have to get it. I bought a used tape at Movies 4 Sale (by Bailey’s, across from Movies 7). You might just enjoy it.
Some memorable parts: Steve Buscemi playing a beatnik bartender who won’t give Norville a Martini on New Years Eve, and the line “You know, for kids!”