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The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) - Blu-ray Review

{2jtab: Movie Review}

The Hudsucker Proxy - Blu-ray Review

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4 stars

The lack of respect The Hudsucker Proxy gets is criminal.  Anyone who proudly proclaims to be a Coen brothers fan should give this release a serious chance.  For me, it’s an easy favorite of theirs in that it’s a straight up ballbuster of a comedy.  Full of dark visual gags and a rip-snorting 1930’s dialogue-driven vibe, the film roller coasts straight into creative gonzo territory as a naïve young man unexpectedly becomes president (but really patsy) of Hudsucker Industries.  At long last, the screwball comedy from the Coens arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of the fine folks over at Warner Archives.

Darkly tinged, this whimsical tale about the creation of the hula (you know, for kids!) hoop has the unmistakable fingerprints of Joel and Ethan Coen all over it.  Its writing is crisp.  The comedy is dark.  Its visual mojo is delightful.  The unrealism in the look of the picture is a charming nod to film from a by-gone era as well as a tip of the hat from creators who are mad geniuses in their own right.  Even writer/director Sam Raimi gets in on the fun serving as co-writer and second unit director.  And it all works to create something quite funny.

It’s 1958 and Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) is quite happy as a mailroom clerk for Hudsucker Industries. He’s a young man with a lot of gumption and ideas.  His world, however, is about to be changed forever when the company founder and president, Waring Hudsucker (Charles Durning), swan dives out of a top-floor window.  Seeing an opportunity to control the company’s shares, Sidney J. Mussburger (Paul Newman) makes Norville the president of the company.

Suddenly, the world wants to know more about Norville.  Across town, Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a smartass Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, gets the assignment to interview the newly appointed president and, quite soon, smells a rat.  Meanwhile, Norville uses his appointment to start creating his wacky idea of the hula hoop.   Everyone wants one and this – in spite of his initial perceptions about Norville – drives Mussburger insane.  Norville must be stopped.

Robbins was new to the Coen brothers scene but he absolutely nails the crackling dialogue with a performance that is stylistically hapless and refreshingly original.  Leigh as the snappy journalist pounds one-liners after one-liners into the rest of the cast with hammer-like precision and a tongue that just won’t quit its lashing.  Her character wouldn’t seem out of place in any other screwball comedy from the 30’s or 40’s.  One can easily see Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart bantering back at her as she bustles in and out of the room as if the film was actually His Girl Friday.

This is definitely a movie full of influences.  From Frank Capra to the ridiculousness of the shape of the Hula Hoop and the Frisbee, there’s certainly nothing unique about The Hudsucker Proxy’s discourse; it’s the mode and tone that steals and seals this film.  It’s probably the reason so many critics have lowered their grading of the film over the years since its release.  Yet, the strength of the Coen brothers is in their ability to take you with them wherever they go – unrealistic or not – in the course of a film.  They’ll never be mainstream and The Hudsucker Proxy is proof of all the reasons why but with actors like Bruce Campbell, Steve Buscemi, Bill Cobbs, and John Goodman making appearances, they are in fine, fine company.

The fast-talking big business like atmosphere of The Hudsucker Proxy isn’t the Coen brothers best work but that won’t keep it from being a favorite.

{2jtab: Film Details}

The Hudsucker Proxy - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: PG for mild language and thematic elements.
Runtime
: 111 mins.
Director
: Joel Coen
Writer
: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Cast:
Tim Robbins; Paul Newman, Jennifer Jason Leigh; Charles Durning
Genre
: Comedy | Drama
Tagline:
They took him for a fall guy... but he threw them for a hoop.
Memorable Movie Quote:
"You know, for kids."
Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site:
Release Date:
March 11, 1994
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 26, 2013
Synopsis
: A naive business graduate is installed as president of a manufacturing company as part of a stock scam.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

The Hudsucker Proxy - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

3 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - February 26, 2013
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: Region-free

Warner Archive presents The Hudsucker Proxy in full AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Colors are saturated and stylistically accented.  There are no issues with print damage to note, and fine grain is present throughout.  The film-like texture is still there, too.  Detail is nice in the close up shots and remains strong in medium and long distance shots as well. Black levels are pretty solid and there are no compression artifacts or obvious edge enhancement issues of note. All in all, this is a pretty sharp transfer.  Carter Burwell’s score is preserved effectively in a clear and clean, wall-balanced DTS-HD 2.0 audio track.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

There’s a trailer and that’s all.  I can’t help but feel that Warner Bros is just dumping this one onto the public.  Boo.

{2jtab: Trailer}

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