An attempt at a 1940’s screwball comedy done in 1994!
Written By: Ethan & Joel Coen & Sam Raimi
Directed By: Ethan & Joel Coen
First things first, The Hudsucker Proxy looks gorgeous. In set design and cinematography it is a striking film. It is rich in texture and depth, with shadows and light playing off of each other. Brilliant looking office buildings and offices, reflections that go on forever and more. The Hudsucker Proxy is a visual treat for the eyes and on that basis alone it is a film worth seeing, but there is more to it than just its pretty looks.
There are moments of great comedy in The Hudsucker Proxy, such as when a board member tries to jump out the window only to find out its now Plexiglas. Jennifer Jason Leigh is a riot every time she goes into one of her manic rapid fire speeches. The entire hula hoop sequence with the kids is fun and a bit mesmerizing in its simplicity. As you can see, there are moments of true comedy and joy to be found in The Hudsucker Proxy.
There is also the mildly interesting evil/good parallel as shown through the final showdown in the clock tower between Moses and Aloysius. However, on the whole The Hudsucker Proxy is superficial, with all kinds of beautiful trappings but not much in the way of depth. Everything that happens looks beautiful, but when you try to look past the beauty there isn’t much for the brain to take in along with the eye.
The Hudsucker Proxy moves at a fast pace and that is to its benefit. But, it is missing one key element of the screwball comedies it wants to pay homage to, heart. The Hudsucker Proxy feels cold and efficient in its narrative as opposed to full of heart and a genuine draw for the viewer to care about what they are seeing. There’s also a decided lack of interest in Tim Robbins character. He slinks to the background so often that he never feels like someone we should have a vested interest in. A strong sympathetic character and a little bit of heart in the story are clearly missing from The Hudsucker Proxy.
Ethan & Joel Coen are great filmmakers and while The Hudsucker Proxy is a good film it doesn’t rank among their best. There is just enough comedy, wit and style to The Hudsucker Proxy to ensure it is a good movie worth seeing. But it feels too hollow and mechanical to be a great picture and it falls short of the great films it is paying homage to. All that being said, if for no other reason you need to see The Hudsucker Proxy because it is a beautiful looking film, one of the finest looking films I have ever seen.