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Pushing Tin

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Pushing Tin

Starring: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thorton
Director: Mike Newell
Rated: R
RunTime: 124 Minutes
Release Date: April 1999
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie, Jake Weber, Vicki Lewis, Kurt Fuller

Review by MrBrown
2½ stars out of 4

_Pushing_Tin_ is not, as a friend of mine erroneously yet understandably concluded from its title, about aluminum siding salesmen. However, the occupation held by its main characters, Nick Falzone (John Cusack) and Russell Bell (Billy Bob Thornton), is indeed one not typically given center stage treatment in the movies: air traffic control. Directing planes into a collision-free course onto the tarmac may not sound like the action-packed stuff movies are made for, but director Mike Newell makes the challenging yet seemingly tedious job appear incredibly exciting. The rivalry between cocky hotshot Nick and the serious, even more skilled newcomer Russell threatens to turn their very real and serious job into one big game, and their battlefield of computer blips certainly resembles a video game. However, they--and the filmmakers--never lose sight of the lives that hang in the balance with every move of the cursor, lending Nick and Russell's faceoff-at-the-console scenes a certain amount of suspense in addition to their driving intensity.

Nick and Russell's rivalry naturally leaks out into the world beyond the workplace, and that's where Newell and screenwriters Glen and Les Charles run into turbulence. In fact, _Pushing_Tin_ is less about Nick and Russell as air traffic controllers than it is their domestic lives. While this inherently is not a problem, its familiarity is, and it takes about a good hour of exposition before the film touches a crucial, and eventually central, point--that each appears to fancy the other's wife. Nick is drawn to Russell's vivacious 19-year-old wife Mary (Angelina Jolie), and Russell starts to pay some much-needed attention to Nick's largely neglected homemaker wife Connie (Cate Blanchett, acquitting herself nicely in a contemporary role). This side of the story is well-played by all involved and there are more than a few funny moments (a musical interlude in a restaurant is a highlight), but instead of enhancing the film, it only serves to make what was an original premise into something far too conventional.

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