Tuesday, November 8, 2011


(October 1989, U.S.)

THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS is a rather quiet, simple movie released by 20th Century Fox. There's no special effects, no 3D, no super heroes, and no roman numeral number attached to the title. In other words, it's a film that would NEVER be released today under Fox's main studio...under Fox Searchlight, perhaps. It's main appeal at the time of its release was the opportunity to see real life brothers Jeff and Beau Bridges star together as on-screen brothers. That prospect is very alluring to someone (like me) who'd like to watch two performers who can actually act. And speaking frankly, Michelle Pheiffer never looked hotter in her entire career!

Jack (Jeff) and Frank (Beau), are brothers making a living playing piano in lounges and music bars, their gimmick being that they play intricate jazz-and pop-flavored duets on matching grand pianos. Professionally and personally, Jack's life is a series of empty one-night stands. Now and again, he plays the challenging music he really cares about at a local jazz club, but it's become pretty clear that his life has become a mundane routine that has sickened him deep inside. Frank also shows signs of having just as much contempt for what they do together, as well, but clings to the fact that what he does pays the bills and supports him family, which in itself is enough for him to live the life he does.

So, for 31 years, its just been the Baker boys and things have moved along the same course without change...until they hire the beautiful but eccentric Susie Diamond (Pfeiffer), a former escort with unusual charisma, a sultry singing voice, and emotional baggage she keeps well hidden most of the time. After a rocky start, the new act becomes unexpectedly successful, leading to bigger gigs and better money, but Frank is worried that Jack will ruin it by letting his dick to the talking with Susie, having noticed the growing attraction between the two, and being all too well aware of his little brother's effect on women. He's not wrong about them having sex (twice), nor about that action eventually tearing the act apart. In the end, their professional relationship is over, but the brothers finally let each other know how much they care about each other, now that they don't have to work together. It seems that their connection is unbreakable, no matter what happens.

As mentioned above, THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS is a quiet film, but also one of the moodiest films I've ever watched. Jack's cynicism and coldness to the world and events around him is hard to ignore, and frankly, sometimes reminds me of how I can feel sometimes about the world around ME. The cynicism I often feel in life leaves me walking away from this film with two inescapable conclusions. The first is that many of us spend our lives functioning through a daily, mundane existence that creates a deep, sickening hole in our system. That existence is usually classified as our job or career. The second is that regardless of any unconditional love, their is often no one in this world who is capable of pissing you off more than your own brother.

Is all that cynical enough for you?

Favorite line or dialogue:

Jack Baker: "Listen to me, princess. We fucked twice. That's it. Once the sweat dries, you still don't know shit about me! Got it?"

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