A portrait of a fictional town in the mid west that is home to a group of idiosyncratic and slightly neurotic characters. Dwayne Hoover is a wealthy car dealer-ship owner that's on the ... See full summary »
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A portrait of a fictional town in the mid west that is home to a group of idiosyncratic and slightly neurotic characters. Dwayne Hoover is a wealthy car dealer-ship owner that's on the brink of suicide and is losing touch with reality. Written by
Though it's bound for negative comparison with the sober, Joe Pro, Oscar-friendly AMERICAN BEAUTY, I vastly preferred Alan Rudolph's vision of suburban life gone bonkers. His adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's best (and most scabrous) novel starts with one genius style choice: Rudolph mates the Pop Art Expressionism of Oliver Stone with the group-hug ensemble of his mentor, Robert Altman. Beneath the blizzard of smily-face pins, digital-display Colonel Sanders, and chain-diner Muzak lies a Tiffany cast. Bruce Willis is the face of desperation under a stick-on grin as the car-salesman hero, Dwayne Hoover, a small-town hero who doesn't know why he's a few cards short of a full deck. As his second banana, Nick Nolte is a dream as a hard-working joe who's so guilty about his sexual kinks they seem to leak out of him like flopsweat. And as the movie's resident seer and soothsayer--a derelict sci-fi genius named Kilgore Trout--Albert Finney is so perfect Rudolph seems to have plucked him from out of an Iowa City dumpster.
Rudolph's attempts at stars-and-stripes Expressionism don't all work; some uncharitable folks will be reminded of late-sixties I-hate-America bashes like END OF THE ROAD. But I have always had a soft spot for those pictures, and I feel protective toward BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS as well. Blessings are showered upon Bruce Willis for scratching this dark-horse project out of thin air, and upon Rudolph too. He must have known that propelling himself out of his usual world of downbeat, canoodling romanticism would pull out of him the best work of his career.
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