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Frank and Jack Baker are professional musicians who play small clubs. They play schmaltzy music and have never needed a day job. Times are changing and dates are becoming more difficult to get so they interview female singers. They finally decide on Susie Diamond, a former 'escort' who needs some refinement, but the act begins to take off again. While the act is now successful, both Frank and Jack have problems with their life on the road. Susie becomes the agent that makes them re-evaluate where they are going, and how honest they have been with each other. Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Enjoyable story, thinly plotted but very well made.
Jeff and Beau Bridges - brothers in real life - are here united to play brothers on the screen. It's not the first time real-life brothers have played fictitious brothers in a movie (in fact, in The Long Riders several famous siblings paired up to similar effect). However, The Fabulous Baker Boys really benefits from the pairing. The sibling rivalry that runs through this film feels very credible and very convincing, possibly because Jeff and Beau aren't really acting but are simply using their real-life love/hate brotherly attitudes to fuel their performances in front of the cameras.
It's a fairly thin story, but well told. Jack Baker (Jeff B.) and Frank Baker (Beau B.) have spent years working together as stage pianists in various bars, hotels and night-clubs around Seattle. Their long-running act begins to run out of steam and they find themselves playing to empty rooms.... even their more established employers begin to express doubts about their ability to pull in the big crowds. They decide to hire a female vocalist to spice up the appeal of their show and, after over thirty awful applicants, they finally unearth a winner in the shape of Suzy Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer). Initially, Suzy provides them with a turn in their fortunes, but the future of the trio becomes cloudy when she and Jack develop sexual yearnings for each other. The problems don't stop there, with Frank and Jack slowly becoming more and more distant with each other as their views on how best to market their musical talents are revealed to be very different.
The Fabulous Baker Boys is extremely well-acted throughout, with Pfeiffer in particular giving an outstanding performance (she even sang most of her own songs). The main themes of sibling rivalry and unfulfilled talent are generally engrossing, and help to paper over the thinness of the story. Jeff acts rather moodily for much of the time and is very believable as a man working in the lower ranks of his trade when he could've reached the top. Beau is also in fine form as a performer who does what he does simply because it puts money in the family kitty. It's a hard film to describe, because it's not really about very much, but if you can adjust to the relaxed pace and just enjoy the leisurely development of the three main characters then you will come away from the film feeling thoroughly satisfied.
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