Why do the dumbfucks in Hollywood insist on making crappy movies about stuff that nobody gives a rat's ass about? I think I know why, and my reasoning was crystallized during "Pushing Tin," an efficiently made yawnfest.
John Cusack is a hot shot, the "Top Gun" of the New York air-traffic controllers. He gets a boner from directing a lot of planes and doing it better than anyone else. He works with a crew of other controllers who are your typical sitcom collection of misfits. Cusack's life is good, he's got a hot, fuck-ready wife and a couple of kids who pop up in the movie whenever it's convenient. Yes, life is good... until Billy Bob Thornton comes to town. He's a new-age loner who is faster and better than Cusack, and a rivalry is born. If you can think of something more exciting than a rivalry between two air traffic controllers, move to Hollywood immediately. They need you. And if they don't give you a movie deal, you can at least bust open some skulls while you're out there.
As the rivalry heats up, the two men sleep with each other's wives, and Cusack loses his. Then, the movie is about him trying to win his wife back and reconciling with himself, by becoming less of a hot shot and more of a sensitive, John Gray reading sap. I say, let's club to death all those new-age "Celestine Prophecy" assholes while they're in their sweat huts, or doing group hugs in the woods.
This movie is well-made. Unlike some shit, I actually think someone was excited about the subject of air traffic controllers and, if you disregard the cornball co-workers, the setting seems pretty realistic. Now, mind you, I'm no expert. Hell, the closest I get to directing traffic is when Mrs. Vilviotchky starts bouncing her Buick off the safety posts on the Ralston Amoco's pump bays. There are a couple of fine performances, too. First, by Cate Blanchett as Cusack's put-upon wife. I am shocked that, given the shallowness of the other bit players, her character adds more class to suburbia than one of Mrs. Filthy's Mary Kay parties. Angelina Jolie makes a fine whacked-out wife for Thornton. Her role is pretty vague, but she gives it her all, being both sexy and freakin' wiggy. Ms. Jolie, I think you are very pretty, and if Mrs. Filthy ever dies (God forbid) come around and I'll fill your tank for free, if you know what I mean. Then I will have a lot of sex with you.
What sucks most about "Pushing Tin" is the story. Despite what you might think, air-traffic control is not fascinating to watch. While it looked real, it looked real boring. A bunch of "wacky" characters watch blips on a radar screen. Woohoo! The movie even sort of admits it's boring by trying to make the blips become three-dimensional images on the screen. The result is some sub-"Tron" video action. And, while the movie starts out talking about a hot-shot air traffic controller, it finally becomes a new-age treatise on love and giving up your machismo. The day I give up my machismo is the day they pry it from my cold, dead hand, along with the latest issue of Juggs.
See, the pricks in Hollywood ran out of ideas about eight years ago. Since then, they have been recycling magazine articles. I haven't seen any of my favorite articles appear, those being the ones that start "Dear Penthouse, I never though I'd be writing to you..." Anyway, some intellectually bankrupt screenwriter saw an article and shouted "Eu-fucking-reka! I'll write a really shitty new-age love story and put it against a background of air-traffic control!" Hollywood said, "Shitty movie, new background? We love it!"
The rivalry between Cusack and Thornton elicits a big "So fucking what?" There's no tension, no drama. Just two boring guys who are trying to outdo each other at a job that is probably very stressful, but not at all interesting to watch. That Cusack bones Thornton's wife is unbelievable and disgusting. The writers and director strung together a bunch of romantic clichés and figured us dumbshits paying $7.50 a head would get the idea. It's an example of sloppy moviemaking when they decide certain things must happen at certain points, regardless of whether it makes any sense.
Late in the movie there is a bomb-threat that is supposed to pump up the action. The real bomb-threat should be at every theater showing "Pushing Tin." Anyway, this attempted jolt is too fucking fake to do anything but piss me off. It's so sudden and so out-of-the-blue that I only wondered how the screenwriters thought they could really get away with that shit, not if everyone would be all right. The threat turns out to be a false alarm, by the way.
John Cusack bugs the shit out of me. He's never believable because he always looks like a smug actor acting, not the character he's playing. There's always this veneer of "I'm an ACTOR!" In this dud he is no different, and his smugness makes the asshole character he plays totally unworthy. I wished he would fail. If you can't forgive this guy, you won't buy the stupid fucking ending, where he sings to her from the air traffic control center while she is sitting in the cockpit of a plane. If you can forgive him and do buy the ending, go read "Us" magazine because there's nothing here for you.
Billy Bob Thornton doesn't wiggle my wiener either. Usually I love this guy, but here his character has nothing to do but stand around and be silent. This means he's wise, you see. So, when he tells someone to jump in a freezing river, they should do it, so they can also be a pouty, silent wiseman. I never got the impression his character was any more than a silent jerk with some unexplained love of zen.
The other characters were probably rejected from "Suddenly Susan" for being too trite and lame.
Angelina Jolie gets naked. That should be a plus, but it's handled so badly it made me cry. Yes, you get to see the nipples on the finest tits in this hemisphere. But, she is laying down and those luscious melons are covered mostly by a bra. Jesus H.
Two fingers for "Pushing Tin." Secretly, I wouldn't
be too upset if Jolie's career went into the crapper and she
had to start making some of those straight-to-video sex thrillers
that you can fast forward through just to get to the bouncing