Pushing Tin (1999) Poster

(1999)

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5/10
Not that good, not that bad
Volstag23 September 2002
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.
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More real than you may think...
tinpusher9119 November 2004
Okay, several parts of this movie were a bit far-fetched; (the wake turbulence from a heavy jet being one of them)but from a technical standpoint I can say that the phraseology, hazing, harassment, and ego trips are very accurate. Why? In a word, pride. Perhaps false pride at times, but pride nonetheless. The U.S. air traffic control system handles more traffic in a single day than any other country does in a week. Check the numbers, kids. It's true. The training is rigorous and relentless, and, at the risk of sounding like a commercial for the Marines, if you happen to be the one out of about a thousand who makes it through training to become a full performance level controller, it becomes a badge of honor. Very few people can do it. It is a close-knit family, which was also displayed in the film. If you'll notice the scene where a particular departure didn't "tag up" and one controller didn't notice it, several others jumped in to help out, and all joking and hazing stopped. Forgive my preaching, but this is the first movie that actually gave a somewhat accurate view of my profession, so hopefully I can be forgiven for being protective. (By the way, if I was married to someone who looked like Angelina Jolie, I'd keep her in the woods away from the slugs I work with, too.)
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Waste of talented actors and interesting subject matter.
RickJaso26 April 1999
Pushing Tin takes a unique subject matter, a job that affects almost everyone in America, and compelling lead character in the midst of a moving internal struggle and absolutely ruins it. Why did the director and/or producer have to try and make Top Gun for Air Traffic Controllers? The first scene of this movie was so laughable I almost walked out. These filmmakers adapted this movie from an article, as the opening credits state. Too bad they used the Hollywood cookie cutter to do it. Mr. Cusack and Mr. Thornton are enjoyable as usual and so was Ms Blanchett, unfortunately that is not enough.
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A decent in-flight meal, but too much turbulence
BuddyBoy196112 July 2000
Here's 1999's winner for the film least likely to be shown during an overseas flight. Cusack stars as a hotshot air traffic controller whose top dog status is threatened by the arrival of the equally gifted but enigmatic Billy Bob Thornton. Cusack's mounting rivalry with the inscrutable Thornton eventually consumes his personal life as he falls prey to Thornton's sexy wife (Angelina Jolie) and his marriage (to Cate Blanchett) gradually disintegrates. Director Mike Newell showed great flair in balancing comedy and drama in 1994's "Four Weddings And A Funeral", but here the mix is less assured and the extremes far too close together. Only fitfully amusing, "Pushing Tin" too rarely concentrates on its examination of air traffic controllers and their daily stresses, opting instead for a simple one-upmanship plotline with a superficial and sometimes flippant look at the men and women within whose hands we entrust our lives. The four leads are more than adequate in their roles, though the characters portrayed by Blanchett and Jolie (excellent during her brief appearances) are all but forgotten for long stretches at a time. As for rental possibilities, visibility should remain zero.
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8/10
Interesting, detailed characters and workplace. *** out of ****.
Movie-127 December 1999
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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2/10
What the hell IS this?!
Quicksand7 October 1999
I saw this movie when it was relatively new in theatres, and I STILL don't know what to make of it.

Is it a comedy? A drama? A character study? An excuse to keep Billy Bob Thornton in the public eye?

I may never be able to figure that out. It's not funny, it's not dramatic, and there's not a single character in this movie that I liked by about halfway through the film. They don't WANT you to like these people. They're petty and childish, and rather than mining the humor in that, they mine the agony.

If you're the Coen Brothers, you're intelligent enough to pull this off. If you're Mike Newell, everyone thinks it's a brilliant art film because they didn't understand it.

Not only do I not understand it, I don't understand Mike Newell and I don't understand who this film was supposed to be speaking to. Certainly not anyone seeking entertainment.
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1/10
A waste of good acting talent
Jeff-15123 April 1999
It's difficult to know where to begin. I was looking forward to seeing this film as I think both John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton are both fine actors, also Kate Blanchette is in it so how bad can it be? It reeks. John Cusack plays a macho air-traffic controller for the New York metro area who thinks he's God's gift to pilots. Billy Bob Thornton comes along and out-machos him both in the control-room and on the basket-ball court, and also happens to have the sluttiest wife in the history of cinema. Name the cliches: 1. Billy Bob's zen-like cool as a half-Cree or is it half-Choctaw? both get mentioned - anyway, he wears a feather when he's controlling the planes. 2. Cusack sleeping with aforementioned slut. 3. Major fight in control-room while planes are haplessly flying around out there - very professional, guys. 4. The stupid ending . There's plenty of other garbage which is too numerous to mention.I almost got testosterone-poisoning from all this schlock. I'm amazed these fine actors wanted to be associated with this horrible film.
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7/10
Not Bad of a Flight!
meeza26 September 2000
Director Mike Newell's `Pushing Tin' is about the turbulent life of air traffic controllers. Its delightful and thought-provoking screenplay is not intended for the usual `airhead' moviegoer. So please put on your thinking cap for this one. The film stars John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, and Angelina Jolie. Thornton and Jolie executed average `plane' performances. However, Cusack and Blanchett rose high with theirs. I do not blame Billy Bob or Angelina for not going up to par with John and Cate. Maybe, Billy Bob and Angelina were way too much in the clouds on and off the set, or maybe it was just that their characters were not fully developed in the script. Even though i am not `Pushing Tin' as one of the best film of 99, it is still one that you should put on the `safe landing looking' section. *** Average
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A Comedy about losing control (of an admirer it never had)
Aidan McGuinness5 July 2002
`Pushing Tin' concerns two air traffic controllers. One is Nick Falzone, played by John Cusack, who as the hotshot of his workplace is happily married to one Connie (Cate Blanchett) with two kids. Into his life comes the notorious new air traffic controller Russell (Billy Bob Thornton) with his beautiful wife Mary (Angelina Jolie). The two men do not react well to one another and spates of jealousy and male rivalry, with consequences, ensue..

To it's credit `Pushing Tin' at least has an original setting - I can't recall another movie about air traffic controllers. Of course its merely a premise for male ego bating, a long running plot concept of countless movies. Here the bating takes place in trying to outdo one another in all aspects - work, social esteem and even with one another's wives. This leads us to the comedic events of this comedy. The comedy here is very soft, as the movie has a more comedy/drama mould to it than being ostensibly an all out comedy. Cusack's performance here is quite manic, as he winds himself up trying to outmatch his peer. As usual it's also quite good - Cusack has a great sense of being an actual character rather than an actor portraying a character. He works very well with the material he's given portraying a character that - while not as well drawn as his roles in such movies as `High Fidelity' and `Grosse Point Blank' - is nonetheless flawed, but still worthy. Thornton's character is the laconic counterpoint, laidback about the situation for most of the time but with a sense of energy and vitality brimming beneath. Thornton once again turns in a neat performance, with just enough character embellishments and detail to lift his character from blandness into quasi-life. Unfortunately Blanchett and Jolie - as the objects of affection - can do little with their limited material and serve merely as surfaces for the two leads to bounce off.

The problem with the movie lies in the pacing of the script. Considering the intensity of the job, there's no pressure ever evident in the movie in either the script or direction (courtesy of Mike Newell). Even the manipulation of planes, using some graphics and actual plane shots, lacks any urgency. Thus the comedy tends to amble along to a rather drab finale. The drama elements are adequate and the performances flesh out the characters, but there's not enough originality to make it avid viewing. Therefore you'd expect the comedy elements to balance it out. Alas, while there're some smiles to be had, there's very few laughing aloud moments. Sure the characters neuroses and clashes can create some amusing sparks but they're not frequent enough, nor sharp enough to sustain this movie as a comedy. Thus, overall, the movie is grand and passable but there's nothing to really warrant much of a look in, except to see the works of two strong Hollywood actors. 5/10.
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4/10
just doesn't deliver
kitt-328 April 1999
This movie just doesn't deliver. It gets too bogged down all through the middle as Cusack's life comes apart because of his determination to outdo Thornton's character. Also, Thornton's character (although he is the antagonist of the film) is way more interesting than Cusack's character, with whom we get frustrated and just wish he'd get his act together.

The movie does become more amusing towards the end once Cusack finally tries to do something about his sorry state. But too little, too late.

The film also uses the style of super-verite everyone-talk-at-once, which means that you can't hear the lines and it rarely does anything to add to the story. Seemed like the whole first third of the movie was there just to develop the "atmosphere". A number of scenes here and there that don't have any purpose in the story.

The acting's all fine and good, and the NJ/Long Island clothes and decor are fun. I blame the writer, director, and editor for the failure of this flick.
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1/10
Pushing Crap.
pilgrimworker8 October 2008
I like John Cusack and Billy Bob Thorton. Both are fine actors and I've enjoyed their films over the years.

This, however, is a travesty. Easily rates as one of the worst films I ever sat through. It is one of those you keep expecting it to get good and it never does.

The characters were annoying and the plot insipid. Angelina Jolie's character has outright repulsive. In fact, there was even moments were you could tell the actors were desperately trying to make a scene work, but couldn't, because the story was garbage.

Do yourself a favor and skip this one.
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awful
MichaelOates14 March 2004
John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett and unfortunately come together to create this sad excuse of a film called "Pushing Tin."

The absence of humor, plausible plot, lack of chemistry between the lead actors as well as the slow pace made me realize that I had made a mistake watching "Pushing Tin." The pace is so slow that I had enough time to go out and get fast food, eat, come back and not miss a thing.

In fact, the best thing I can say about this film is that they survived this film and are going to be in better films. "Pushing Tin" is nothing more than good talent gone to waste.
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1/10
Love/Hate relationship
matlock-64 June 2003
People seem to have a love/hate relationship with this film, and it's safe to say that I'm in the latter category.

Pushing Tin is a thoroughly abysmal comedy that squanders its cast of brilliant actors. The story is so pointless and boring that I find I care nothing for any of the characters, which to me is suicide for the movie.

The entire premise seems to be how "hardcore" these two guys can be, and the neverending testosterone struggle between the two to constantly one-up the other guy. Various shots of Cusack running around the flight tower, guiding planes in and making them make all kinds of sudden, unsafe dives, etc. is supposed to leave us rolling on the floor, but instead he comes off as cold and uncaring about the people on the plane who could easily die as a result of his stupidity and is mostly annoying.

Another "hardcore" scene involves Billy Bob Thornton standing on the runway just behind where huge jets are landing. The powerful rush of air that hits the asphalt as the plane comes in throws Thornton through the air like a leaf in a tornado, and the next scene we see is of Thornton's face with a big post-coital smile on it. Stupid and ineffective. A complete waste of great acting talent.

Angelina Jolie appears for a total of about 10 minutes and has about 6 lines in the whole movie.

In summation, this movie should never have been made. It's a complete waste of space. One of the few (but increasing number, lately) that I either turn off halfway through or fall asleep during.
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2/10
Pushing tin? More like "dragging lead".
lee_eisenberg28 March 2012
What the hell? Someone thought that THIS passed for a plot? I swear, NOTHING happens in "Pushing Tin". The entire movie is little more than two hours of people talking about disjointed topics. The movie isn't even so bad that it's good; it's just bad. John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett and Angelina Jolie are completely wasted. How on earth could director Mike Newell go from something as good as "Donnie Brasco" to this? At least he went on to direct "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire".

Look, there are lots of good movies out there. The very same year in which "Pushing Tin" came out, John Cusack also starred in "Being John Malkovich" and "Cradle will Rock", while Cate Blanchett starred in "The Talented Mr. Ripley". This one, however, is NOT worth your time.
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8/10
Good enough for Hollywood
AutoXFan2220 October 2003
Good movie for sure, but not totally accurate. As an air traffic control major, I don't believe most of it because I know better, but for showing a world that usually isn't revealed to us, Pushing Tin did a good job of showing some of the real intensity of the job. And I've seen what happens in the TRACON, where they are in a good part of the movie, and as far as the environment goes, things are just slightly more professional. Obviously the environment has to be humorous, or all controllers would go nuts pretty quickly, but it's not THAT humorous. So all in all it was believable for Hollywood, but it could've used a little more realism.

As for casting, I can't say anything bad about it. John Cusack thrives in the intensity of ATC, and Billy Bob Thorton plays the perfect nemesis.
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9/10
I usually agree with the aggregate ratings on IMDB, but...
scondrill4 August 2002
In this case, I disagree. I have figured out that an overall rating of 7 or better indicates a good movie. I am amazed this received a 6. The acting, script and story line were outstanding. I gave it a 9.
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1/10
Hands down THE WORST movie I have ever seen
scottmason01-672-4783829 April 2013
It felt like 8 hours and honestly I feel really stupid that I didn't walk out of the theater. I wish I could have that 2 hours of my life back as this has to be the worst major motion picture ever made. Save yourself as I would rather chew on tin foil in a cold shower then have to sit through this horrible movie again. There is nothing redeeming I can say about this movie, not even Angelina Jolie looking hot. I can't come up with one reason to watch this movie. The troops in Gitmo should show this movie to inmates but I am 100% confident it would be against the Geneva convention as it would undoubtedly be considered torture to have to sit through this movie.
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10/10
Funny Movie With Serious Point
elysiafionn19 October 2005
At first glance, this movie is one big romp. A real scream - Billy Bob Thornton is one of those guys who can be hilarious (and kinda scare you at the same time) without ever opening his mouth. His eyes are silent movies. John Cusack is funny in a cute, desperate sort of way that makes you totally relate to what he's feeling. Cate Blanchett amuses us yet again with her chameleon-like ability to completely become a character you've never seen her as before, complete with appropriate accent, effortlessly carried.

Watch it a second time, though, and you'll realize that this movie portrays how completely a person can screw up their own life by the attitudes they decide to adopt, and the way they react to the people around them. Cusack's character, "The Zone" Falzone, would like to think that his life is falling apart because of the new guy at work, but in reality every problem he's got is his own damn fault... a good lesson for all of us to chew on.

Interesting note: The guy who plays Cusack's work buddy is currently starring as Patricia Arquette's husband on the TV series "Medium". He's very cute, now that he's lost the 80's "stache" and grown his hair out. He kinda reminds me of Steve Perry, with lighter hair. Not a bad thing.

As always, the presence of Angelina Jolie in a movie adds a whole lot of sexual tension, and a little bit of insanity. I love, love, love her. I want to bite her lips off, chew them, and blow bubbles. I'm pretty sure they're strawberry flavored.

  • Elysia
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8/10
What happens when an other duck land in the same pond?
Screen_Maven12 January 2019
Good insights on what it means to be a flight controller. And how to cope with your ego and self assurance. Which later is needed for the job can also become a trap. All mixed with lightly offered humor. Especially the end of the movie is ment to be on purpose as corney as possible. Once you understand that, it is all together a great movie with very good acting. 8 stars!
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3/10
Not my genre
sven_nilsson-13 August 2010
Pushing tin is a confusing piece of work. I was under the impression it would be a story about air traffic controllers, but it is not. This is in fact a pure love/romance drama, and the traffic controller setting could really be swapped with anything else - it plays a very minor role and does not contribute anything interesting to the story at all. I believe the story writer wanted to make it attractive to a broader audience (not only girls) and decided to throw aviation into the mix to lure their boyfriends into the cinemas. A clever trick maybe, but an ugly one. Actors are OK though, Thornton in particular, so if you are a fan of love/romance dramas, maybe give it a try. Otherwise Ground Control, which is a REAL movie about air controllers, will be a much better choice.
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3/10
This film is one big complaint from a tiresome bore
kickstand29 January 2000
The main point of the film: air traffic control is a really, really hard and stressful job that kills your marriage and squeezes all the joy from your life. Well, jeez, man, quit your job and stop complaining to me!

Implausible aside: John Cusack's character is married to Cate Blanchett, one of the most alluring and intriguing women on the planet [in a thankless role] ... and he cheats on her!?!? Gimme a break!
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7/10
An unusual, whacky comedy, fun and feelgood.
Rich B27 October 2000
Another brilliant performance by John Cusack, and an equally cool one by Billy Bob Thornton. These two actors work so well together, and provide a superb onscreen chemistry. There's some lovely visuals in there too, especially of the traffic control screens, or the standing on the runway video.

The story is sometimes odd, and the characters derail in the wierdest fashion, but it's a nice story and has a message for all competitive people out there. You won't laugh insanely, but you'll giggle. A very enjoyable film.
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2/10
WHY?WHO?HOW?
cormac-328 April 1999
Why is Cate Blanchett in this movie? Who read this script and thought it funny, smart, or worth 6 months of their life? How can so many fine actors create such a flat film? Awful.
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1/10
Boring
noodle_salad26 April 1999
Boring, boring, boring and slightly annoying. I actually walked out an hour into the movie and I've only done that once before. After an hour it still hadn't gone anywhere. The characters were dull and I just kept thinking "I left the house for this? There's so many other things I could be doing right now." Don't waste your money.
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1/10
Boring movie - kept waiting for something to happen!
cjglad27 April 1999
This movie never got off the ground - no pun intended. Waste of talent. Two of my favourite actors (Cusack and Thornton) did their jobs well but could not keep this film up in the air. Angeline Jolie's lips were so distracting to the point of wanting to throw something at the screen!

Watch for this at your local video store next week. Don't waste your money - tell your friends not to waste their money.
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