Pennies From Heaven - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pennies From Heaven Reviews

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½ November 23, 2016
This is one of the best movies ever made. The feeling for the time period was right on, just clever and good.
August 6, 2015
Witty, but not my cup of tea.
August 2, 2015
A really well made musical movie with a great performance from Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters. The music, art direction, costumes, and writing are all really great as well
August 2, 2015
This movie deserves to be re-released. The lavish artificial spectacle "innocence" of the 30's only makes sense when you see it in the context of real desperation of the times. This movie does that beautifully. The lip-synching of real hits of the period make it more poignant, more sad, more real. These were real songs that were popular. This is how and why the Depression era was able to embrace the fantasies of the overly fantastic excesses of Hollywood. I can't believe I have missed this movie until now. I love musicals and I vaguely remembered that bad reviews - I had no idea this perfect movie was what I was missing. Of course the reviewers of the lavish 80's could not fathom these themes. (Now, post-recession, look how we consume fantasies - albeit superheroes instead of Busby musicals - but is it all that different?)
July 31, 2015
I liked the cast, performances, dance numbers, set design and overall story but really disliked how they just lipped synced the musical numbers using the original songs rather than recreating and having the actors sing it themselves because using the original 1930s music took you out of the film too much and didn't match the look and feel. This would have been much better if they had the actors sing themselves, which only happened once at the end, which was the most emotional part of the film. But even without that, the film felt uneven and brushed along too much, but understandable considering it was adapted from a several part TV miniseries. Still, this musical surprised me being that it was R-rated and I really didn't expect the raunchy and dark nature of the story which I enjoyed, but still could have been executed much better, especially if they cut out the last scene. I could see this musical being recreated now though, but with the actors recreating and singing the music themselves.
July 30, 2015
u get 2c Walken dance and learn why fatboy slim tapped him 2 dance in that awesome video
February 28, 2015
The production is superb - everyone from cinematographer Gordon Willis to production designer Ken Adam does outstanding work. (Be warned, the tribute to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers begins with a trick that loses most of its impact when it's not seen in a theater.) But the movie can occasionally feel contemptuous, even mean-spirited. Perhaps this is why it failed at the box office and with mainstream critics. A shame because Bernadette Peters and Christopher Walken make the case that they could have been Hollywood musical legends had the genre been more popular in the 1980s. (Moreso to any fan of Peters' stage work.)
Super Reviewer
½ January 22, 2015
Based off of the titular BBC miniseries from several years prior, this American production features Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters in the lead roles. The film features dozens of iconic songs from the thirties and forties, several backgrounds painted from the original thirties musicals, and huge numbers akin to the heyday of MGM. Throughout the film the actors lip sync to the iconic singing of people like Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, The Boswell Sisters, and Ruby Vallee. Though the actors in this film do not sing, they are very talented performers. Steve Martin learned tap dancing for six months in preparation, Peters is a Broadway mainstay, and Christopher Walken had been trained in tap dancing prior, giving one of the more astounding performances of his career. The story follows Martin as music sheet salesman Arthur as he cheats on his wife, runs from the cops, and tries to find happiness in Depression Era America. The story is pretty grim, making Arthur's fantasies that much more heartbreaking. The juxtaposition illustrates that musical numbers really are fantasies in and of themselves, and the people going to see musicals during the Depression were trying to escape their disparity and poverty. Astaire reportedly hated this film because he believed that this period was innocent, and showing its realities was tawdry. In reality, this film was eye opening, and beautiful in its assessment of true life.
½ October 19, 2014
How cynical can a musical be? This dazzling downer of a musical offers an answer...
August 20, 2014
The 1930s Hollywood-style musical numbers serve as the bittersweet and tragic escapist fantasies of the victims of the Depression, and some scenes are ripped from Ed Hopper paintings. It's a companion piece to Woody Allen's "The Purple Rose of Cairo."
June 27, 2014
I loved the TV version with the late Bob Hoskins
½ June 8, 2014
Between the three musical throwbacks of the time (this, At Long Last Love and New York New York), 'Pennies' is probably the most satisfying of the three. Ross and Potter playfully contrast the jazz and whimsy of classic tunes and musical numbers with the harsh realities of Depression life.
January 29, 2014
miserable, except the child dance number and pimp lord walken
December 28, 2013
A very downbeat depression era story about a struggling sheet music salesman and his infidelities is contrasted with peppy, lavish musical numbers of the era. Thematically, it reminded me very much of Woody Allen's "Purple Rose of Cairo." Comparing the two, I think Allen's film gelled together better as a whole, and Pennies, while made up of some brilliant parts, doesn't quite fit together as a whole. It absolutely has some brilliant moments, particularly a dance number with Bernadette Peters and her students and another one with Christopher Walken showing off his song and dance background while also getting to do one of his trademark creepy characters. Steve Martin is also very good in a dramatic role, but also excels in his song and dance routines. Gordon Wilis photography is also terrific. It would be interesting to watch this film with Lars Von Tier's "Dancer in the Dark" for a depressing musical double feature.
December 27, 2013
An aggravating, snappy, and dark musical starring a lip-syncing Steve Martin that violently aches for the days of Astaire via a tap dancing Christopher Walken.
½ December 3, 2013
though I'm not a fan of lip sync, I have to admit that the choreography and music were remarkable.
October 21, 2013
I don't usually seek out musicals, but this one was quite an experience. First off, those who don't particularly like musicals probably won't think twice about seeing this, but it is worth a watch. Now, onto what I liked about the film. I thought that the musical selections were incredible, and there wasn't a single song I didn't like. Perhaps I'm biased because I love music from this era, but whatever. I also loved the set design, costumes and choreography which I thought was amazing. It was like a Fred Astaire musical, but in color, if I had to make a comparison (even though I've only seen clips of Astaire). And the schoolteacher he meets is like his Ginger Rogers (with shades of Jean Harlow and Mae West). Another thing I thought was ingenious was the way in which the musical numbers were presented. Instead of happening directly within the story, which most of the time takes you out of the cinematic experience (after all, who really breaks into song in real life?), they present all but one of the songs as fantasy/dream sequences which are obviously lip-synched. This is probably the greatest innovation the film makes. Other than that, I noticed little things (aided by internet research while I watched it), like a recreation of Edward Hopper's Nighthawks painting in one scene. The title is taken from a 1936 Irving Berlin musical and song (which I might want to check out, although the movie itself was adapted from a British miniseries), and one scene features two of the main characters recreating a scene from a Fred Astaire musical. There's also a scene where Christopher Walken gives an impressive dance (and striptease). Hell, the entire cast gives great dancing performances. One scene I liked in particular involved a teacher and her class full of schoolchildren. However, I get to what isn't so great about the film. For one, Steve Martin's character is a philanderer, habitual liar and all-around jackass who, if it weren't for his optimistic musings, would be pretty hard to get behind and root for. I didn't feel that many of the characters outside of the main three really had any depth to them whatsoever. Arthur's wife, in particular, got short shrift in this respect. Also, without the musical numbers, the movie would be goddamn depressing. In fact, the movie just gets more depressing as it goes along and more bad things happen to the principal characters. This makes the musical numbers even more of a necessity because these eventually are the only uplifting moments in the film. Perhaps, this is trying to say something about the nature of music in life, that it brings happiness and joy into what is essentially a dull and heartbreaking experience (and set, literally, in the Great Depression). If so, then it made its point very well. This brings me to the end (SPOILER!), which I felt was kind of a cheat in a way. It spent the entire movie building on this depression, and then it opts to end it happily. Seeing as how this movie works as a tribute to musicals past, maybe this was its way of not deviating too far from those previous films. But then again, it could have been another dream sequence. Who knows? I'll probably need to watch it again to be able to tell. Overall, this was definitely worth the time I put into watching it, and I really want to download the soundtrack now.
½ August 2, 2013
I really liked it myself.
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