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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
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 »
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Interesting, detailed characters and workplace. *** out of ****.
PUSHING TIN (1999) ***
Starring: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie, and Jake Weber Directed by: Mike Newell Running time: 124 minutes Rated R (for language, and some sexuality/nudity)
By Blake French:
"Pushing Tin" is really nothing more than a very interesting character study that maintains support from its script to succeed. So many movies these days have well-written characters but not the thriving screenplay to back them up. At last, we can enjoy a film with strong comic performances, smart dialogue, and an engaging atmospheric environment.
The film stars John Cusack as a hot shot air traffic controller named Nick Falzone, nicknamed "the zone" because he is truly the best at his profession. He lives in New Jersey with his happy housewife, Connie, and their son. (who is seldom mentioned or seen.) He has an intense, stressful work life, enjoys having fun with his co-workers, and seems to have a pretty optimistic look at life.
All things change, however, when Nick meets his new neighbor, Russell Bell. He's a roughneck motor cycle-driving, quiet and challenging man who really needs to shave. Nick immediately feels tension between Russell and himself. And it just so happens that Russell is also an air traffic controller, making things even more competitive between these two individuals. The two soon begin efforts to try to impress the other, in and outside the job.
The personal battles between Nick and Russell soon put each of them in bed with the opposite's wife. Nick is the first to commit adultery when he falls for Bell's highly attractive young wife, Mary. While he meant well, by taking her out for dinner after observing Mary sobbing at the grocery store, when they got home, things obviously got out of hand.
The movie is very detailed both in the workplace and in its colorful, intriguing characters. The original tasting flavor of being placed in an air traffic control tower is quite captivating. The characters stare at the plane monitors like children at a television screen while playing a video game. The characters themselves are relevant, ordinary people, which is why they are so easy to relate to. Even though some of their personalities and motives are instantly obvious, we still have lots of fun watching their everyday living style
While some comedies would eventually regulate into a formalistic climax and follow predictable events, "Pushing Tin" is too smart for that. The ending is happy and light hearted, but it's most of the fun getting there. Mike Newell, director of "Four Weddings and a Funeral," knows exactly what he wants out of the actors here, and they do exceedingly well at giving what he requires. Each fits their character perfectly, especially Cusack, Jolie, and contributing an Oscar worthy performance, Thornton.
"Pushing Tin" offers a variety of characters and contrasts them effortlessly. In particular, during a just-for-fun basketball game, Nick makes a sudden bet for $100 that Russell can not make a hoop from a certain point in the court. Russell excepts. Nick nervously changes his gamble to fifty cents, but Russell stands firmly on the original amount. He shoots...and misses. "Close enough, Russell," pardons Nick, "Lets call it even." Russell walks over to him manly and states "You either make it or you don't," as he hands Nick the cash promised. The chemistry between these characters is as effective as pouring oil in to water. And that is exactly how it is designed to be.
Brought to you by 20th Century Fox.
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