The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) Poster

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10/10
The Real Seattle Sound
jhclues24 July 2000
Written and directed by Steve Kloves, `The Fabulous Baker Boys' is a tale of music and brotherly love set in Seattle. The Baker boys are Jack and Frank (real life brothers Jeff and Beau Bridges), who eke out a living playing piano together at various venues throughout the Emerald City, a basic lounge act they've been doing for fifteen years. Frank is the responsible one, because he has to be; he has a wife, kids and a home in the suburbs. He manages their business, secures the bookings and is content to stick with a formula that works. For him, it's not about the music, it's about keeping food on the table for those who depend on him. Jack, on the other hand, is unattached and could care less about the business end of the partnership. As long as it affords him a modicum of security as well as dignity, he is more than willing to just go along for the ride.

For Jack, though, underneath it all, it is about the music; it's about jazz. On off nights he will steal away alone to some small club to play, and deep down inside he knows that this is not only what he really wants, but needs. And he knows he could be great, if only he'd let himself go. The trouble is, he's been with Frank his whole life, and as long as the act is working he just can't make the break. Unless something happens, his dreams are destined to remain suppressed and unrealized. It is only when one of their regular clubs balks at rescheduling them that the brothers begin to realize that perhaps their act is getting a bit stale. So they decide to try adding a singer to the act. After a memorable scene in which a number of young hopefuls are auditioned, Suzie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer) enters their life. She joins the act on a trial basis, and after an amusing and somewhat tentative beginning, infuses it with new life, though Frank continues to adamantly resist too much of a departure from their original show. (`Does anyone really want to hear ‘Feelings' again?' she asks him at one point). Ultimately, however, Suzie becomes the impetus for change that Jack has needed all along, and the stage is set for the decisive moment, which comes when the dignity of the brothers is compromised due to an incident on Frank's part of uncharacteristic carelessness. When Jack tells Frank, `We've never been clowns before–' you know exactly how deep it has cut. Kloves has fashioned an entertaining study of relationships, change, and the effects of complacent loyalty and self-denial; and the importance of following your own heart. When Jack sits down alone at the piano in that smoke-filled club, we know that this is where he is meant to be. Filmed on location in and around Seattle, with a terrific score by Dave Grusin,a supporting cast that includes Jennifer Tilly (Monica) and Ellie Raab (Nina), and a classic scene in which Suzie Diamond croons `Makin' Whoopee' atop a piano, `The Fabulous Baker Boys' is an absolute gem you do not want to miss. I rate this one 10/10.
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7/10
Enjoyable story, thinly plotted but very well made.
Jonathon Dabell25 December 2003
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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10/10
It's not getting any better than this
Jan Willem Wilkens18 March 2005
TFBB is such a terrific movie, you feel like a child in a toy store wanting to tell it all. Everything in this story falls into place, the pace is great, the acting is brilliant and yet it's in the details that one discovers the masterpiece. There's the audition scene, the little story about the sick dog and the girl from next door to show you Jeff Bridges does care, the introductions by Beau as they perform in their special place, The Starfire Lounge and then repeats the same line in another cocktail bar, the bathroom scenes in the hotel they do their Festive season gig (quite different what you might have expected from a bathroom scene between Michelle Pfeiffer and Jeff Bridges !), the dog leaving the elevator in the hotel on his own to join his boss who is playing alone, his kind of music. This movie gets better with repeated viewings, so buy it instead of renting it.It's a mystery to me why Steve Kloves did not make more films and instead waited to become a scriptwriter for the Harry Potter films more than 10 years later.
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9/10
A singer changes a brothers' music team and their relationship
blanche-211 December 2007
Jeff Bridges and Beau Bridges are "The Fabulous Baker Boys" in this 1989 film also starring Michelle Pfeiffer. The Baker Boys have been playing dual pianos on the lounge circuit for years, with Frank (Beau) acting as the booking manager and accountant. When the bookings dry up, the brothers decide to hire a singer. She's Susie Diamond, a gorgeous blond with a sultry voice and sexy appearance that gives the Baker Boys the pizazz that they need to pick up better gigs and more of them. Of course, one can't wait for the handsome, quietly intense Jack (Jeff) and Susie to give into their sexual chemistry, despite Frank's warnings that Jack's hit and run technique will not work with a teammate. When Frank is called away on a family emergency, more than sex happens. Ultimately Susie's bluntness and ability to see a situation for what it is makes Jack realize he hates the act, hates the way his brother handles it, and hates himself for not pursuing work as a jazz musician.

Someone wrote that the plot is thin - not really. The sibling dynamics are real, pent up, and the product of years of lip-biting, Jack becoming more and more introverted and Frank more desperate to work so he can support his family. It takes an outsider to bring tempers to a boil.

The film is very well done, with great music throughout, including some very hot singing by Pfeiffer. The highlight of the movie is Pfeiffer rolling around on the piano as she sings to Jack. She's really at the height of her beauty and can compare favorably to any Hollywood goddess of the past. Her performance as a street-wise singer who's had it tough is excellent, right down to the chewing gum and the crystal jewelry. Beau Bridges is perfectly cast. He plays a working musician for whom music is a job - and yet he's proud of the act, insistent on having "Feelings" in every show they do, and likes songs like "Bali Hai." Then we come to Jeff Bridges, certainly one of the sexiest men to ever come down the pike - tall and handsome, he is the essence of true jazz musician here - passionate on the piano, cool, loving the night life and the attendant bad habits of drinking and smoking. He's all tied up in his inability to break free of his brother, and it's expressed in every non-expression, every puff of his cigarette. He's fantastic.

Another reviewer on this site stated that non-musicians probably can't understand Jack's frustration about the music. It's true, I'm a trained musician and related to his crisis immediately. But I think many people are in jobs they don't like, many people have a book they never finished because the kids came along - I think this is a very appealing story.

I remember this film getting a big build-up when it was released, but many people on IMDb feel it's underrated. I didn't realize it was, but if it is, it shouldn't be. What a movie - a strange kind of a love story for sure, between a man and his music, but a love story nevertheless.
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10/10
Truly As Good As It Gets
Jasonfan16 December 1998
Oh, this movie is the best. An absolute must-see. It's dreamy and romantic, yet cynical, so it's like having your cake and eating it, too. The Brothers Bridges are excellent (I wonder how much of their real-life relationship crept into their on-screen relationship) and Michelle Pfeiffer is absolutely perfect as Suzie Diamond. This is the movie in which Ms. Pfeiffer transcends, completely and irrevocably, the realm of mere mortals and achieves goddess status. She's smart, tough, funny, and sexy--all at the same time! When she stretches out on a piano to sing "Makin' Whoopee", she is radiant and reminds one of the greatness and the glamour of old Hollywood.

RENT THIS MOVIE TONIGHT!!!!
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10/10
Finest, most important film ever made on the subject of Music
P.M. Reilich16 June 2000
I consider Baker Boys the best film on music because it is one of the finest noir stories ever written on the subject. It is an important film because of the subject matter: an expose of musical art married to entertainment. It is a subject rarely revealed in American media.

Most people think of "musical art" as something found at the classical music concert or the college music department. The other stuff we hear is entertainment, right? Well, sometimes it just isn't that simple. Baker Boys is a story based on those cases of mixed marriage when the talented artist finds himself locked into an employment situation that hampers his artistic ability. It may come as a surprise to Jazz and commercial music lovers that such music artists really do exist beneath the glamorous facade of their favorite music acts (not to mention films). The story of Jack Baker means to reveal this dark underbelly of the entertainment business.

It is well for the public to understand how and why such musicians exist. The distribution of a film such as Baker Boys is but one step toward this end. While most people saw the film as a romance involving the swing music genre, what they didn't seem to recognize is the more important underlying contextual theme. This issue - of undiscovered musical talent - is not popular. Unfortunately the average layperson is not familiar enough with music to understand or care about why a musician would be unhappy with his job. It is easy to see why most people avoided this, the main theme of the film - it's too dark - and instead focused on the romance and the style.

In the end, Baker Boys is a story of one Jack Baker, an entertainer who was finally bold enough to make the transition to Jazz artist. It is a story of passive resistance to what Blake Edwards immortalized as that "other" part of the entertainment industry known behind the scenes as S.O.B. (Standard Operating Bullshit). It is but one fictional story that represents many, many similar true-life cases of successful failure.
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10/10
Strips away the masks and goes straight for the soul.....
triple87 January 2005
There is no way I could possibly give Baker Boys anything less then a 10, even though as far as personal enjoyment goes, I had some problems with it. Yet, without a doubt the fact remains that this movie, on many levels is extraordinary.(not OK or good-extraordinary.) I Personally am very surprised there aren't a lot more comments on here about Baker Boys.

Obviously, Michelle as well as the Bridges brothers were fantastic. But most have said that so I won't get into that to much. I was very impressed(and a bit awed) by this screenplay and how incredible, not just the dialogue was, but the mannerisms, the little "back and Fourths" and quirks of each person-the writing was way above merely being good. Beyond admiration, however, I was touched by the writer's ability to capture the world of entertainment and music so perfectly. This is a movie where, (after Suzy, frank and Jack), the music and world these people live in, becomes the fourth main character of the movie. And anyone who has lived in a similar reality at anytime in their life, will feel like their seeing old friends....

My viewing experience was not perhaps the most fun I've ever had, for two simple reasons. One, because I, like many others, will concede this movie moves extremely slowly and unfortunately slow movingness in a movie is one thing that's always been a problem for me. Second, this movie is draped in nostalgia and made me feel more sad then anything else when it was over. The gloom I felt however, was also coupled with knowing I just watched a really well done movie-so it was gloom mixed with admiration, sort of like listening to Pink Floyd.

It takes time to get into Baker Boys, it's a slow burn not an immediate rush. It is one of the most nostalgic pictures I've ever Seen. People have mentioned 70's, 80's I'd say those periods and even earlier. There's an old style glamor coupled with a bittersweet sleepy nostalgia-and anyone who has experienced the stuff of nighttime, and neon lights, will be back in that place again whether they want to be there or not. That's entertainment.
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9/10
Deserves some more appreciation
Travis_Bickle0122 September 2005
This movie is one of my favourites, probably because I'm a true Jeff Bridges-fan. I think most people are familiar with the story. It's about 2 brothers playing piano in hotel lounges and bars etc. Beside the Bridges-brothers, Michelle Pfeiffer is also in this movie. She is the star of the show and gives one hell of a performance too. The story isn't unique. There are probably more movies made like this, trying to tell the same thing, but for me it really worked. I love every scene of this movie. I love piano's, beautiful women, Jeff Bridges' acting and great performances in general. "The Fabulous Baker Boys" has it all.

It think it truly deserves a better rating. 6.6 is way too low. I should at least reach the level of 7/10. I personally would give this movie an 8 or 8,5, but to compensate the underrating a little I will give it a 9. I can't think of any reason not the see this movie. It isn't a psychological drama. It's a drama with a fine story, great performances and a wonderful cast. Michelle Pfeiffer deserved the awards she won for her performance. To me, it became kind of a classic. See this movie! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

9/10
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8/10
Even when a larger audience will see it, they will probably not like it
Philip Van der Veken25 July 2005
After seeing the rating for this movie, I'm convinced about one thing: the average viewer doesn't want good movies, all they are interested in is some cheap entertainment with big explosions, a lot of violence and shooting and if possible even more car chases. How else could you explain the fact that movies like "Batman Begins" or "Spiderman" and yes even the "The Lord of the Rings"-trilogy make it to the top 250, but a movie like this one doesn't even get a 7/10 (The actual rating is 6.6/10 after 4,563 votes). Am I saying that this movie belongs in that list too? No, I'm not, because it is a very good movie, but there are plenty of better ones. It's just the fact that I don't understand why people no longer seem to appreciate some very good acting and a fine story anymore.

"The Fabulous Baker Boys" tells the story about two professional musicians, Frank Baker and his younger, less committed, but more talented brother Jack, who have been playing as a piano duo in bars and hotel lounges for many years, but who seem to have lost much of their appeal to the audience. They aren't asked for new performances and they realize that something has to be done. They decide to hire a new female singer. During the auditions there isn't one who can sing or keep tone and they are convinced that they will never find one either. But then Suzie Diamond comes stepping in. She's 1.5 hours late, has a big mouth and hasn't got the right 'entertainment' experience (she has worked as an escort girl). But they give her a chance and they are astonished by her qualities. Together they make the act successful again, but when the relation between Suzie and Jack briefly becomes more than professional, tension between all three builds up and forces the band to break up...

Although I didn't know the name of the director, Steven Kloves, I was convinced that this could be a very good movie. The reason for that was because I knew that Sydney Pollack was one of the producers. That's no guarantee for success of course, but it sure helped me to get some confidence in this movie. And it has to be said. Kloves has done a fine job in writing and directing this movie. I'm sure that it will not appeal to a large audience because it isn't very spectacular, but what he has done with it certainly proves that the man has talent. He has written a solid, effective, but simple story without too many extra's and I really appreciate that. Also in his direction he has kept everything quite sober. This is 'just' a love story involving a small band, but it works and that's all that matters.

Of course he has been helped by his excellent cast. Jeff Bridges and Beau Bridges are really very good in playing the two pianists, but it was Michelle Pfeiffer who had me completely in her power. Not only does she look and act very sensual in this movie, she sings like an angel. I knew that she was a very talented actor, but that she could sing that well, really was a big surprise to me.

Overall this movie deserves to be seen by a bigger audience, although I'm convinced that it will never happen. It lacks everything to draw in a big crowd and even when they give it a try, they will probably not like it because it's nothing special in their opinions. Personally I liked it a lot. A good story, some very fine acting, very good directing,... make me believe that this movie doesn't deserve a rating lower than a 7.5/10.
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10/10
A unique mood among modern films
Mark Hudson7 January 2002
Possibly the best ensemble acting since the Hawks, Bogart and Bacall version of "The Big Sleep". There aren't many films of the eighties that match the sheer class of the best studio pictures of the thirties, forties and fifties. This one does. Watch the scene where Jeff Bridges lights Pfeiffer's cigarette for a few seconds' vignette of perfectly restrained and utterly revealing acting. But then, almost every scene in this movie is at or near this standard. It's a film in a thousand, if that, that makes you believe you are seeing a glimpse into real life at a particular place and time. The Fabulous Baker Boys is three people's intersecting lives in Seattle in the late eighties. As real as if you had been there? No. As right as if you had been there? Yes.
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10/10
Great Performances All Round *SPOILERS*
ZacBaker29 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A great story about personal/professional disappointments and broken dreams and the belief in following your own destiny.

The relationship is obviously believable between the real life Bridges brothers'(The stable and older Frank against the moody Jack) and Michelle Pfeiffer is a real jewel in this crown as the very sexy siren that Jack can neither fathom nor resist. She becomes the catalyst for change in all their lives.

All this is put to a beautiful and moody Jazz soundtrack and the acting never hits a wrong note. One of the highlights is watching Pfeiffer writhing around on a grand piano singing 'Makin' Whoopee' while Jack tinkles the ivories (A precursor for what is to come). A very sexy moment in a very fine, sexy and subtle film.
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10/10
A really good movie...
Goodwill-312 August 1999
Real life brothers, Beau and Jeff Bridges, play brothers, Frank and Jack Baker in The Fabulous Baker Boys. The Baker brothers have been playing together for thirty-one years, and professionally for fifteen years. We learn early on, by Jacks' tone, that he is not a 'happy camper'. His remarks are short, flip, and sarcastic. Frank is the big brother, protector, organizer, and their work manager. Frank tends to play the games of life while little brother, Jack fights them.

Professionally, they are not doing so well, so Frank comes up with the idea to "take on a singer." From the minute, Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer) strolls into the audition late, we see that she has an edge to her just like Jack. She is wise-cracking, gum-chewing, and sarcastic, but wonderful singer that turns this duo into a trio. From the first song she sings with them, there is a real transformation--first of the group, and later in the film as individuals. After the first night on the road together, Frank says "Mark my words, from this night forward our lives will never be the same." And he is right.

Jack turns out to be not as tough as he appears.This is shown by his relationship with his neighbor's young daughter, whom he teaches piano lessons to, and his love for his dog, Eddy. But everything changes on a New Year's Eve road gig. By now, Frank senses there is something between Jack and Susie, and makes it known to his little brother that he doesn't like it. Frank gets called away and while he is gone, the sparks fly between Jack and Susie. The next two scenes are really intense. The first between Jack and Susie. Their dialog cuts like a knife. They each have each other's number and manage to say things that cut to the core of one another. At one point, Susie says, "You know I has you pegged as a loser the first time I saw you. But, I was wrong, you're worse, you're a coward. Ouch! Cut to Frank and Jack playing in a telethon. Jack, not being happy about the gig, says, "You let that guy turn us into clowns tonight. Where is your dignity?" Frank answers, "...I have to be responsible." And that speaks volumes about the relationship between the two of them.

I don't want to give any more of the movie away. It is very well acted by Beau and Jeff Bridges, and by Michelle Pfieffer. They do a great job. And let's just say, it is very realistic especially when Frank keeps referring to Jack as "little brother." You just imagine that is how Beau talks to his little brother, Jeff.
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9/10
Go to bed Frank or this is going to get ugly
Maddyclassicfilms17 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The Fabulous Baker Boys is directed by Steve Kloves and stars Jeff Bridges, Beau Bridges, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jennifer Tilley. This is an underrated film about family, relationships and the power of music.

Real life brothers Jeff and Beau have a lot of fun here playing struggling piano playing brothers Jack(Jeff Bridges)and Frank Baker(Beau Bridges). The pair used to be successful piano players but are now forced to play in small bars and clubs where half the time nobody is listening to them.

Jack is slowly losing his patience with the whole thing until Frank has the genius idea of getting a singer to join their act.Enter Susie Diamond(Michelle Pfeiffer), a feisty New York girl who is just what they're looking for.Susie spices up the act and soon they are booked into bigger venues.

Jack finds himself falling for Susie but his inability to face facts about himself and his career causes a rift between them that may not quite heal.Frank is a family man and as much as he would like to get angry at the owners of some of the venues they play in he knows he can't afford to.Jack however lives alone except for his dog Eddie and the lonely kid upstairs Nina(Ellie Raab)and doesn't have that problem,his inability to grit his teeth and smile leads to a big bust up between the brothers which threatens the entire partnership.

Highlights include Jack applying Frank's spray on hair to cover a bald spot,a young Jennifer Tilley as a waitress auditioning for the brothers and giving a priceless rendition of The Candy Man,Michelle draped over a piano singing with Jeff and an hysterical fruit fight between Frank and Jack. This is a funny and touching film and Jeff, Michelle and Beau all give excellent performances, this is a film that'll brighten up your day in no time.
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7/10
Fabulous, Indeed!
namashi_115 April 2010
Steve Kloves 'The Fabulous Baker Boys' is indeed a Fabulous film, with a terrific screenplay as it's trump card. A story of two brothers struggling to make a living as lounge jazz pianists in Seattle. In desperation, they take on a female singer, who revitalizes their careers, causing the brothers to re-examine their relationship with each other and with their music.

'The Fabulous Baker Boys' has everything going for it, the direction by Kloves is simply outstanding. He keeps hooked all the time, in fact it's amongst the best I've seen from the 80's. Michael Ballhaus's cinematography is remarkable, so is William Steinkamp's editing.

Coming the to acting department, Jeff Bridges steals the show. He's fantastic, as always. Michelle Pfeiffer is excellent, this truly is amongst her best works. Beau Bridges is great, so sad no one has seen much of this gifted actor.

On the whole, this one's a must watch. Strongly Reccmended!
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9/10
Diamond Is A Boys' Best Friend
writers_reign6 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is a gem that stands up to repeated viewings. It manages to blend the sleazy, small-time world of fringe lounges, clubs with the affluent Resort Hotels seamlessly. Jeff Bridges plays his role not unlike a down-at-heels private eye - think Paul Newman in Harper, for example - while real-life brother Beau contrives to be pompous and nerdish at one and the same time. The score is typical of the sort of music you hear in cocktail lounges and realistic, as is the mood of Jeff Bridges who hankers to dispense with schmaltz and play cool jazz. Add catalyst Michelle Pfeiffer and we're talking near perfect. Definitely stands up to repeat viewings.
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10/10
Outstanding - both story and performances
caa8216 August 2006
This is one of those films in which the story line, the characters, and the performances (the three leads and the supporting cast) all work to perfection. Jeff Bridges may be the most under-appreciated actor today - this performance shows that, as well as past roles, ranging from the wholly-sympathetic "Starman," to the consummately evil defendant in "Jagged Edge." He and his brother, Beau, present a believable duo as the pedestrian pianists who finally achieve a modicum of higher-level success. And if there is a more appealing actress, anywhere, than Michelle Pfeiffer, I'm not aware of it. Of equal importance is how the story presents precisely the proper balance of harmony and conflict, and depicts three strong, yet diverse, characters. The music, which here is a companion to the story, is far superior to that found in most of the movies where the music is the ONLY reason for their making. I for one would especially like to see Jeff and Michelle teamed again in the future.
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9/10
FBB = Fabulous
nick_elliston18 July 2006
Fabulous Baker Boys = fabulous.

Slow story but always enthralling building on relationships at just the right pace. Jeff Bridges and Michelle Pfeiffer have always been classy - I have always thought that Jeff was Oscar winning material without ever being convinced he really WANTED to be. Beau was also excellent.

Adding to the pure class of the film is that Michelle did her own singing, and both the Bridges brothers learnt music as well. The rest of the caste also perform well, but understandably it is the three leads that rightfully dominate the film.

Michelle singing Making Whoopee on top of the piano must be one of the, if not the, sexiest performances in film history.
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10/10
Boffo Trio Packs Chow-Houses
AZINDN4 June 2006
Before there was an Angelina Jolie there was the luminous and stunning Michelle Pffeiffer who could stop men in their tracks with just her eyes. In The Fabulous Baker Boys she does it all with her face, voice, and body in one of the most remembered renditions of "Making Whoopie," a hallmark performance on the par with Rita Hayworth's rendition of "Put the Blame on Mame."

A charming story of brotherly love, it features bachelor kuul dude, Jack (Jeff Bridges) and nerdy family guy, Frank (Beau Bridges),as a middle aged piano duo who have been a performing act since children. They play the circuit of small rooms in chain motels and hotels, cocktail lounges, and bars over 300 nights a year and have made a successful, if unnoticed living. However, with cuts to their expected schedule, the brothers realize they must make a change and take on a sexy vocalist, Suzy Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer). Suzy is a size 6, chain-smoking, foul-mouth, show-stopper beauty who cleans up well, and complicates the brother's ordered lives by asking for equal billing, and her photo on the marquee card. Adding to the dilemma, Suzy knows she does not like singing "Feelings" night after night, or "Bali Hi."

Jack wants Suzy for his own duet, but not the complications of a true commitment. Frank just wants Suzy to not swear into the microphone. The strain of a new member in to the daily grind on the road takes its toll on the brother's relationship, as Suzy's presence finally awakens Jack from his complacent attitude towards his life, and Frank, to stand up for himself and their professional career.

The real life brothers, Beau, the cute one, and Jeff, the hunk, are never more true to themselves portraying brothers, who long ago put their desires and needs on the back burner. These performances are subtle, mature, and nuanced and a joy to watch. Michelle Pfeiffer's presence is worth the price of admission if only to watch her writhe on the Steinway, and her vocals are her own. One of the better performances by an actress recognized for her beauty, she proves her chops and vocal talent with Suzy's quixotic mixture of tough-girl and model chic.

As a trio, the cast mesh and support each other as a musical drama with hi and low notes given the attention worthy of a concert performance. Jazz piano and combo segments make night-life club settings believable and add an authenticity of contrast with the plastic hotel lounge environments. Kudos to the look of the film and costumes and settings which make an extra dry martini a real pleasure to enjoy. Hold the olives, please.
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6/10
Backstage Blues
harry-7627 July 2003
After playing small club gigs for over 15 years, the "Baker Boys" finally come to grips with some realities.

"Susie" comes into their act and lives. She's a former "escort" and blues singer, whom they hire to rejuvenate their somewhat tired act.

This she does, in more ways than one.

"The Fabulous Baker Boys" is an accurate and frank depiction of musicians' lives-on-the-road. It reveals what happens after the audience goes home and the musicians retire to their nice hotel rooms.

But after years, one nice hotel room is the same as another. Likewise, their music routines can become as stale as leftover tobacco smoke in their vacated clubs.

Jeff and Beau Bridges execute some the finest work of their careers in this film. Likewise, Michelle Pfeiffer equally supports them, as well as does her own singing.

Dave Grusin and John Hammond's soundtrack piano renditions are excellent, as is Peggy Holmes' choreography for Ms. Pfeiffer. Sydney Pollack was wise to financially support this production as executive producer.

Writer director Steven Kloves came up with a winner here, marred only by some general slow pacing and an ambiguous though appropriate ending.

"The Fabulous Baker Boys'" reputation continues to grow and be appreciated by more audiences, through cable and DVD distributions. It signifies a rare glimpse at backstage life-on-the-road of musicians who so enrich our lives, yet are all too often taken for granted.
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8/10
The Sons Of Bridges
bkoganbing8 May 2012
Beau and Jeff Bridges, the sons of Lloyd Bridges really developed their careers apart from each other. Neither piggybacked on the other's success and while their father's name might have opened a door or two, Beau and Jeff never piggybacked on him either.

When they did a joint project each had a well respected career. The Fabulous Baker Boys is about a pair of musician brothers who have a double piano act, something like Ohman&Arden from the Thirties or Jose and Ampara Iturbi, brother and sister in a more classical vein. But they're not anything as successful as the examples I mentioned. They eke out an existence in the clubs in Seattle trying to scratch a living at what they love.

Beau takes a lot of guff to keep them employed as he's married with children and Jeff puts up with nothing. To liven up the act they decide a sexy girl singer is what they need and after some dismal candidates they find Michelle Pheiffer. But Michelle dishes out her own brand of guff and she causes The Fabulous Baker Boys to reexamine themselves and their lives.

Pheiffer got a Best Actress nomination one of four categories of Oscar nominations the film received. She dominates the film when she's on and not through sheer beauty. It was a well deserved performance, I love the scenes when she cuts Jeff Bridges down to size. She isn't easy on Beau either.

Lots of the kind of music I like, vocal and instrumental, is found in The Fabulous Baker Boys. That's a guarantee right there I would enjoy the film.

It's only too bad that Beau and Jeff could not work their father into this one.
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10/10
Brilliant low key drama exploring loyalty and relationships
a.north16 May 2000
This is a superb film mixing great acting performances with brilliant writing. It was so refreshing to revisit this masterpeice recently, especially comparing it aginst recent Hollwood standard fodder.

Pfeiffer and the two Bridges sizzle on screen without going over the top.

If you want to see an everyday story about lives, loyalty and kinship in America then this is one for you.
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A Sparkling Romance
Chris-46330 March 1999
The Fabulous Baker Boys is a movie with a plot that's been done countless times before. There's two partners (in this case, the Baker Boys) who have had a lounge act for over fifteen years and suddenly have their lives thrown upside down when a gorgeous lounge singer enters the act. Jack (the unsettled playboy brother played by Jeff Bridges) falls for the showstopping Suzie (Michelle Pfeiffer), much to the dismay of responsible family man Frank (Beau Bridges). The whole setup is so corny and predictable that it's hard to believe writer/director Steve Kloves fashioned something so wonderful out of it. The Fabulous Baker Boys overflows with style and class. The cinematography by Michael Ballhaus is lush and atmospheric. Kloves' direction is smart and so his script, which artlessly combines humor, romance, and drama in a surprisingly poignant story about hopes and dreams. Dave Grusin's jazzy score and the gorgeous melodies only enhance the mood. Best of all, though, are the performances. Casting the Bridges brothers as the Baker boys was inspired. It's fascinating to determine how much of their real-life relationship is played out here. Beau brings numerous grace notes to what could have been a stereotypical character and Jeff gives one of his best performances as the miserable Jack. But, the big news in this movie is Pfeiffer, who became a star with this sharp, confident, stunningly sexy turn. The screen literally jolts to life when she appears. And that now-classic scene where she sings "Makin' Whoopee" on a piano is certain to immortalize her as one of the great movie stars of this century (and one of the best of current actresses as well). Pfeiffer's in a class all by herself, and so is this movie.
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Simply Fabulous!
george.schmidt13 March 2003
THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS (1989) ***1/2 Jeff Bridges, Michelle Pfeiffer, Beau Bridges, Jennifer Tilly, Ellie Raab. Excellent character driven comedy/drama with some above average low-key performances with real-life siblings Bridges as a lounge act facing stagnation until they decide to take on a chanteuse in the appealing form of Pfeiffer (Oscar nominee) who comes from the school of hard knocks, together making beautiful music. Beau's best work, Pfeiffer sizzles (particularly her steamy singing atop a piano) and Jeff is perfect as someone trying to maintain his sanity (and dignity) despite his setbacks. Great script also by rookie director Steve Kloves who also garnered an Oscar nod.
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8/10
God, what a movie; heatfelt, emotional, tragic
Mr-Fusion24 July 2015
What was really surprising about "The Fabulous Baker Boys" (a pleasant one) is that Michelle Pfeiffer can actually sing. Everyone knows this movie for her slinky performance on Jeff Bridges' piano, but I'd always just assumed she was dubbed over. She's got a nice voice. And going beyond just that scene, Pfeiffer has never been such a head-turner as she is here. My god, she is sexy in this movie.

It's not an easy movie to sit through, seeing as it details the ark side of show biz. Tensions show themselves from minute one, and just bubble throughout until they come to a head. Twice. There are two altercations in the story that are just painful (between Jeff and Michelle, and then Jeff and Beau). Speaking of the brothers Bridges, if that counts as stunt casting, then it's necessary. I don't think you could tell this story with unrelated actors. The real-life siblings bring a realism to this that heightens the emotion.

Rough movie, but a beautiful family story. Bittersweet to the end.

8/10
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10/10
Brothers playing brothers
Al Rodbell5 August 2008
This could have been a gimmick that didn't work. Just because two actors are actual brothers doesn't mean they can convey the particular fictional brothers of the film. And this film was about the two men, with a mutual affection and dependency that they never had to articulate, until the need for a "girl singer" became evident.

And what a singer they got in Michelle Pheiffer's Susie Diamond. The hard boiled prostitute with a heart of gold is a well worn cliché in films, that takes some genuine writing and acting talent to transcend. Pheiffer did this with a seeming effortlessness that defined Susie as a unique individual.

Unlike most successful films this one's achievement lies in its very moderation, its telling only enough of each character's life to make them real. So we never meet Beau's family, even though Jeff has a key scene in his basement. It would have only been diverting at this stage of the film.

The relationship between Susie and Jeff Bridges, Jack Baker was also just as much as we needed to know. The mixed feelings of their first sexual liaison as a trade off of a good business relationship for a long shot love affair was perfectly demonstrated in both of them in their own rooms expressing with the same tone, "shit!" I saw this film on TV after seeing it first at a theater some two decades ago. Perhaps, I'm older, or I've seen too many less skillfully crafted films in the interim, but I appreciated it even more this time.

This is both a quality film, and damn enjoyable evening's entertainment.
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