Pushing Tin (1999)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  23 April 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 24,241 users   Metascore: 47/100
Reviews: 175 user | 91 critic | 29 from Metacritic.com

A feud develops between two air traffic controllers: one cocky and determined while the other is restrained and laidback, which inevitably affects their lives.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Barry Plotkin
Ed Clabes
Tina Leary
Ron Hewitt
Pat Feeney
Philip Akin ...


Nick and the other boys (and Vicki Lewis) working the hotspot of air traffic control in New York are impressed with themselves, to say the least. They thrive on the no-room-for-error, fast-paced job and let it infect their lives. The undisputed king of pushing tin, "The Zone" Falzone, rules his workplace and his wedded life with the same short-attention span that gets planes where they need to be in the nick of time. That is, until Russell Bell, a new transfer with a reputation for recklessness but a record of pure perfection shatters the tensely-held status quo. The game of one-upmanship between the two flies so high as to lead Nick into Russell's bed with his wife. His sanity slipping just as fast as his hold on #1, Cusack's controller is thrown out-of-control when Thornton's wanderer quietly leaves town. Nick must now find a way to regain his sanity and repair his marriage before he breaks down completely. Written by Lordship <lordship@juno.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A Comedy about Life, Love, Airplanes and Other Bumpy Rides. See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and a scene of sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:





Release Date:

23 April 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mi espacio  »

Box Office


$38,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$3,555,032 (USA) (23 April 1999)


£211,735 (UK) (5 November 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Billy Bob Thornton's character (Russell Bell) states in the movie that he is half Irish (his father) and half Choctaw Indian (his mother). In real life, Mr. Thornton's father is of Irish ancestry, while his mother is half Choctaw Indian and half Italian. See more »


When Russell Bell stands on the runway to feel the effect of wing tip vortices from a landing 747-400, he stands directly under the jet as it flies over head. Wing tip vortices roll off the tips of wings in a swirling motion and travel outward and downward. In reality, one would need to be positioned several feet outboard of the wing tips to feel the effect; farther if the airplane were higher. See more »


Nick Falzone: [finds Connie crying in the living room] What is it?
Connie Falzone: Sit down, Nick. I've been explaining to the kids what it means that daddy... won't be around anymore.
Nick Falzone: [drops bouquet] Hey... hey, hey Connie. Wait a minute, Connie... Connie, do you even want to hear my side of this?
Connie Falzone: What's your side of my father dying...?
See more »


Featured in Best! Movies! Ever!: Airports (2007) See more »


Radar Love
Written by George Kooymans and Barry Hay
Performed by Golden Earring
Courtesy of Red Bullet Productions B.V. / The Netherlands
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User Reviews

Not that good, not that bad
23 September 2002 | by (The Treasure State) – See all my reviews

Pushing Tin is somewhat of an odd movie. It's not really funny enough to be considered a comedy, and it's not really compelling/dramatic enough to be considered a good drama. It attempts to pull off both at once, but never really succeeds.

The pacing seems a little "off". You always expect the movie to pick-up at some point but it never really does. It does manage to move along quick enough that it keeps you awake (barely), but I always found myself wanting the story to move someplace / anyplace to keep me more interested than I was.

The story itself primarily centers around the antics of Nick Falzone (John Cusack) and Russell Bell (Billy Bob Thornton), both of whom are air traffic controllers. To it's credit, I've never seen a movie about ATC's, but at the same time Nick and Russell could have been in any other profession and the story would have held up. I sometimes think the writer chose ATC's simply because no one else had done it.

The main conflict centers around Nick's desire to out-do Russell. Why he feels the need to do this is never adequately explained. It's also somewhat of a mystery as to what Nick is hoping to accomplish by out-doing Russell. Most of their competitions are basically irrelevant and don't prove much anyway: holding onto a match the longest, shooting freethrows, stacking as many planes into a queue as possible, etc, etc. Their "battle of wits", as it were, eventually begins to involve their significant others. Unfortunately the respective wives (Blanchett and Jolie) are seemingly little better than pawns in Nick and Russell's bizarre and meaningless mind game. They don't have much depth of character, nor any wants/desires of their own (beyond the superficial), and, as a result, you don't really care what happens to them.

So, in short, Pushing Tin isn't that funny (though I seem to remember it being billed as a comedy) nor is the story engaging enough to be considered a good drama. As noted in my header, it's not a bad movie, but it isn't that good either. Worth a rental if you've seen everything else.

I rate it 5/10.

28 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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