Pushing Tin - rated - TEPID
Nice Takeoff, Shame about the Nose
I thought I'd love this film. Look at the pedigree. Director: Mike
Newell (Donnie Brasco, 1997, Four Weddings and a Funeral, 1994, among
many other films). Stars: John Cusack, Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie
and, unfortunately, the vastly overrated Billy Bob Thornton. Subject:
The stress involved in being an air traffic controller. With bones like
these, you'd think you couldn't lose.
But something goes awry. What starts out as a very funny and worrying
tale of macho, macho men turns into a far-fetched-contest of sexual
prowess, with the women as mere pawns in the game. How dreary!
Where were the aeroplanes spectacularly crashing? Where were the "near
misses"? Where were the passengers, blissfully unaware of their fates?
Apart from one scene in which John Cusack believes his rival is trying
to crash the plane he's on (which disappointingly moves from
funny-scary into Opera Buffo in a trice) we see little of this. Instead
of giving us an insightful character-study of the men and women in this
most extraordinary of professions, we get a tedious study of 3
relationships we don't understand because we aren't given enough
information. And then we get a reconciliation which is too silly even
to go into here.
Whatever happened to Mike Newell? In such a technical subject, how
could he give us such broad brush, cartoonish situations? Why do we
have caricatures instead of characters? All the actors (even Billy Bob
Thornton and his amazing repertoire of funny teeth) work mightily to
breathe life into their characters. Cate does the best here, I think.
But it's not enough to save the film from taking a nose-dive shortly
after reaching cruising altitude.