I'm not entirely clear on the reason, but The Hudsucker Proxy took a beating both critically and at the box office upon its release in 1994. I saw it for my 19th birthday with JAL, and we loved the hell out of this thing. It was immediately added to the list of highly quotable movies, and added the word "Dingus" to my vocabulary. In '95, when we all showed up for the first day of the highly competitive film production program at UT and people asked what we wanted to make, I said something about Star Wars and then paused as all the folks who just talked about Truffaut and whatnot around the room glared at me, and said "You know... for kids!".
JAL thought it was funny, at least.
Maybe the movie is too ambitious for it's own good. Maybe it broke the Coen Bros' SOP a bit too much to work with a real budget and to have name stars like Paul Newman in the room. The plot is less ambitious than Miller's Crossing, but perhaps too complicated for the light-comedy audience that doesn't want to keep up with the whole "circles and wheels of time" symbolism, metaphor, imagery, etc.. that absolutely permeates the film, right down to a Hula Hoop as the failure and success of a corporation's fortunes (and we can talk about throwing a disc out the window as the film' conclusion some other time).
I dunno. But reviews at the time weren't good, and even when critics discuss the movie today, it's with a bit of a sigh, like Jennifer Jason Leigh doesn't totally kill it in every scene she's in.
Those critics can kind of go to hell, in my humble opinion.
The movie isn't flawless, but it is ambitious, and mostly successful. It's certainly not the digestible romp of Raising Arizona that has enough in the way of wacky hijinks frontloading the movie that the oddly somber and serious tone of the last 10 minutes or so that really do change the whole movie are often forgotten. And it's not the Dashiell Hammett love fest (replete with visuals lifted from European films like Le Samourai and The Conformist) that was Miller's Crossing, nor the "we dare you to criticize this" walk into abstraction of Barton Fink.
|pretty much me explaining myself every day of my life til I was 25|
I will agree the movie does run long, and probably should have found a way or two to trim the third act. But the movie is so well crafted in its way, and so intentional in its design and delivery, every frame seems meticulously planned and part of the greater machinery of The Hud. In some ways, maybe it was so crafted it became sterile to some viewers.
|and me explaining myself today|
And as good as Newman, Mahoney and Tim Robbins are...
Jennifer Jason Leigh.
|and who doesn't like a big city, fast talkin' news gal who can go toe-to-toe and better with any boy in that newsroom?|
Oh, well. I like it, anyway.
Saw at: Home on DVD
Saw with: Jamie. Until she went to bed.