....As part of the Paul Newman season at the BFI Southbank, Liam and I went to see this early Coen brothers film. I knew nothing of it, other than it's title flitting in and around many peoples favourite films list. I must say, following the event, it's certainly my favourite Coen brothers venture, but whether it gains any greater personal status than that, remains to be seen.
Tim Robbins stars as Norville Barnes, recently employed in the mail room at hugely successful Hudsucker Industries, who becomes unwittingly part of a scheme, lead by Sidney J. Mussburger, (Newman), to drive the corporation close to ruin, following the suicide of founder Waring Hudsucker.
Mussburger leads the board of Directors who, in attempting to drive stock prices down, can then complete their master plan in affording to buy the majority stake in the company, revive it's fortunes and become vastly rich. The pawn in this plan is Barnes - idiotic, (and with a seemingly more idiotic invention , 'Y'know, for kids', scrawled on a piece of paper), and he is immediately made President.
The board sit back and watch the stock price unravel amid uncertainty in Barnes' ability. Until, that is, he is able to articulate and put in to production his 'idiotic invention' - the Hula Hoop.
Stocks rise, success looms, Mussburger's plan is not going to, erm, plan. All the while, local journalist Amy Archer, (Jennifer Jason Leigh), smells a rat and is intent on uncovering the truth behind Barnes' dubious ascent to President, whilst desperately trying not to romantically fall for the unlikely hero.
The film is a witty, comedic and largely successful take on big business and the American Dream, with the casting and performances of leads Newman, Robbins and Leigh second to none. For the me the Coens' are at their best when humour is at the fore - take the hula scene for example:
Every shot is considered, framed with intent - something we have now come to expect from a Coen brothers film, but in 1994 they had only just begun to establish.
I was hooked from the opening sequence, where narrator and 'clock man' Moses, (Bill Cobbs), sets the scene in an incredible Ohio drawl. Fittingly, as befitting the almost guardian angel-esque handle he has over the film, he presides over the ending too - you'll have to watch the film, as I don't want to spoil it, but false teeth, I love yous and a frisbee all play their part. A must see.