BLUE SKY is about an Army family in the early 60s and is set
mainly on the Army base especially in the family housing area. It
stars Tommy Lee Jones as Major Marshall. His wife is played by Jessica
Lange. They have two teenage daughters. The colonel of the base is
played by Powers Booth and his wife by Carrie Snodgress, whose only
good role ever was in DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE (1970).
BLUE SKY is an engaging movie because of the two leads and of the
family in trouble theme it deals with so honestly. Sad to say that it
also has a needless conspiratorial parallel plot, but more on that
Okay, when I said Tommy Lee Jones, you already have an image of
his part. Right? He is tough as nails, smart as can be, totally
inĘcontrol, invulnerable, and self-confidence personified. Wrong,
wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. This is a character like I have never seen
Jones attempt before. Major Marshall is unsure of himself and a
pushover, when it comes to his wife, very vulnerable, and full of self
doubts. He manages to pull all of this off and be believable albeit I
would rather have seen Jones in another movie in his more traditional
Jessica Lange is his ever unfaithful wife. They fight all of the
time since she is pretty crazy and mercurial. She starts off with
serious fantasies of being Brigitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe. Later
she wants to be other people. She lies all of the time, flirts with
every good looking man over 18, and is a total free spirit. Being a
wife or a mother, is not something that is ever high on her priority
list. I have seen Jessica Lange play fairly similar parts before, and
she was again excellent at it.
The kids in the movie, the two girls and the teenage son of the
colonel, are a real treat. I would have given anything if their parts
were written larger. The conversations of the two girls talking about
the problems in the family, especially the temper and the unreliability
of their mother, were extremely real and insightful. The romance
between the boy and the older girl was so natural and sweet. I just
wish the kids' story were not such a small subplot.
Powers Booth is his usual quintessential slimeball. It is a part
he plays in almost every show he is in, and he does it fine. Snodgress
gives a pedestrian performance.
The major problem with the movie was that the scriptwriters felt a
need to introduce a long parallel plot about underground testing of
nuclear weapons and how Jones was fighting his own evil government.
This was the only part of the show where Jones had a backbone which was
out of character in this role. I think Oliver Stone's brother must
have been a co-writer of the script.
Many small aspects of the movie were noteworthy. The sound
editing was unusual. The actors talked quite low to each other in many
scenes and the background noise was also kept low so that the movie
sometimes had the feeling of a stage play.
In the end, I gave it ** 1/2 and a mild thumbs up. If they had
stuck to the family and its problems, this could have been an ORDINARY
PEOPLE class show along with a very high rating, but alas, it was not
to be. If you look at the credits, you will see that the movie was
made in 1991 and has been on the shelf ever since because Orion studies
went into bankruptcy about the time for its release and so the courts
held it up.
Copyright © 1994 Steve Rhodes