The Fabulous Baker Boys

Critics Consensus

Its story is nothing special, but The Fabulous Baker Boys glows beneath luminous performances from its perfectly cast stars.

96%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 25

69%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 10,089
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The Fabulous Baker Boys Photos

Movie Info

Real-life siblings Beau and Jeff Bridges star as the eponymous Fabulous Baker Boys. Musical prodigies both, the Bakers have long been teamed as a twin-piano act, with the less talented Frank (Beau Bridges) coasting on the skills of his brilliant younger brother, Jack (Jeff Bridges). Their career dwindling to nickel-and-dime dates in second-rate clubs, the Bakers decide that they need a female vocalist to boost their popularity. They select auditioner Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer), who in addition to being a gifted songstress is drop-dead gorgeous. The newly renovated Baker Boys act scores a success, which is inevitably threatened by Susie's growing popularity and by Jack's insistence upon pursuing an affair with the girl.

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News & Interviews for The Fabulous Baker Boys

Critic Reviews for The Fabulous Baker Boys

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (6)

  • The fun part is seeing it all play out, thanks to a standout cast and first-time director Steve Kloves' skill in handling them.

    Jul 28, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Much of the credit must go to the actors, with the Bridges brothers making a superb double act.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • It's a film specializing in smoky, down-at-the-heels glamour, and in the kind of smart, slangy dialogue that sounds right without necessarily having much to say.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4/4
  • The Fabulous Baker Boys is like a beloved movie from the glory days of Hollywood. It transports you. It's an American rhapsody.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • A thoroughly enjoyable entertainment that should play just about everybody's strings right. Kloves proves to be quite a plucker.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • This is one of the movies they will use as a document, years from now, when they begin to trace the steps by which Pfeiffer became a great star.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Fabulous Baker Boys

  • Aug 15, 2013
    The use of the real life Bridges brothers aids this film tremendously as they compete for the affections of Michelle Pfeiffer. Is it intentional that the less talented brother happens to be Beau who is truly far less talented of an actor than brother Jeff? It works.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 22, 2011
    An alluring singer joins piano-playing brothers around the nightclub circuit. The highlights of this film are the performances by the Bridges brothers and Michelle Pfeiffer, who is sultry and has a fantastic singing voice. First-class direction by Steve Kloves also captures some beautiful images, especially Pfeiffer's character, Suzie Diamond, walking down smoky, back-lit stairs and the numerous nightclubs in which the threesome play. The film's story could have come earlier. The first forty-five minutes -- maybe even hour -- is essentially exposition. The brothers play gigs and discover Suzie, and they play more gigs and travel places. We get that Jeff Bridges's character, Jack, is unhappy, but there is no indication where his happiness comes from until the second act comes too late. Then, the film becomes about a man denying himself his own happiness, the excuses he tells himself to rationalize his fear of success or satisfaction. The film finds its center in Jack; from there, it's a strong character study, and Jeff Bridges give a quiet, subtle, and captivating performance. The exposition itself isn't hard on the eyes. As I mentioned earlier, Pfeiffer's singing voice and the film's musical numbers are great, especially for those who like classic jazz. Overall, the film has a mild structural problem, but the strengths of the film make it well worth the time.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Mar 28, 2011
    The film opens with Jack Baker getting dressed while a brunette, who was a one night stand, lies in bed. He is dressing in a tuxedo. She asks, "Will I see you again?" When he answers "No," she doesn't seem particularly moved one way or the other. As he leaves, she says, "You got great hands." Then, as Jack walks through the streets of Seattle, the opening credits scroll across the screen. He arrives at work with two minutes to spare. Frank, Jack's brother, is in a restroom where Jack sprays his hair with Crowning Glory's Miracle Hair to conceal his age. The brothers are a duo piano team who are currently performing at the Starfire Lounge. They have been professional performers for the past fifteen years. The first number they perform is "People." After their performance, Frank collects their pay from the hotel's young and very condescending, assistant manager, Lloyd. Jack doesn't trust Lloyd, so he tells Frank to count the money. When Jack returns to his apartment, Nina, a young girl from upstairs whose mother is always out with some guy, is attempting to play "Jingle Bells" on his piano. At the brothers' next engagement at the Capri Hotel Luau Lounge, wearing Hawaiian shirts, they play the bossa nova classic, "The Girl from Ipanema." After their performance, the club's manager, Charlie, suggests they break up. He can't use them again, he says, because they have class and most people don't want class. He needs something that will draw customers, something more up-to-date. Those comments, or criticisms, cause the brothers to consider adding a female singer to their act. At auditions to find the right singer, Monica Moran sings "Candy Man." She is clearly not what they are looking for, nor are several other auditionees who sing excerpts of "My Way," "Up, Up and Away," "Tiny Bubbles," "I Go to Rio," and "I'm So Excited." After auditioning thirty-seven girls, they are packing up when Susie Diamond stumbles in an hour and a half late. At first Frank has no intention of auditioning her, but he finally gives her a chance. She sings a soulful performance of "More Than You Know," which Jack accompanies with lush harmonies on the piano. Afterwards, she asks, "So?" (Neither Jack or Susie seem to recognize each other or remember they have slept together.) The brothers obviously were impressed because she is hired. The next scene shows Frank nervously pacing because Susie is late for their first performance together. When she arrives, Frank doesn't like the way she is dressed, so he and Jack quickly buy her a dress and shoes that they deem more appropriate. They rush back to the Hilton Hotel Ambassador Lounge, where Susie, after some microphone problems and the brothers getting her started by singing the verse, sings "Ten Cents a Dance," which is a very appropriate song for Susie considering some of her former jobs. Next a montage shows Susie and the boys performing "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" in one lounge after another. The crowds are more enthusiastic at each venue. By the end of the montage, we see a new cardboard stand-up with Susie's name and picture added to that of the brothers. When Jack goes to a club alone to get away from his brother, he hears a jazz trio play "Lullaby Of Birdland." By Christmas, when Jack asks to walk Susie home, she tells him a relationship would not work with them having to work together every night. The trio gets a booking at a swanky resort hotel. The first night, Frank is awakened at 2 a.m. by the blare of big band music coming from Susie's side of the suite ("Perdido"). At their first performance at the hotel, Susie sings "The Look of Love" for dancing. Later that evening, the three performers celebrate their success on the terrace of their suite. Frank, who is getting drunk, hears a recording of "Moonglow," which causes him to reminisce about Jack teaching him to dance. As a result of Jack's dance lessons, he got a wife and children. When Frank finally goes to bed, Jack and Susie dance to the song. Soon friction arises. Frank complains about Jack's incessant smoking, but he is really upset because of his brother's growing relationship with Susie. Frank warns him to leave her alone. Later, they argue about what music to play. Frank gets a call from his wife that Little Frank is ill and he is needed at home. Before he leaves, he gives explicit instructions about what Jack and Susie are to perform while he is away. Once he leaves, while Jack is on the balcony smoking, we hear a recording of the Duke Ellington Orchestra playing "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me." During this time, Susie is seen smelling his aftershave lotion in his bathroom. Then a little later, she sees him checking out her perfume (there is also a bubble bath scene where Jack catches Susie when she slips on the sudsy floor, but that was omitted from the version viewed). Their next performance is New Year's Eve. Susie and Jack perform "Makin' Whoopee" (Eddie Cantor's original version was much more sarcastic than Miss Pfeiffer's). She sings the song, which warns about the dangers of married life, from on top of Jack's grand piano and sings part of the lyric directly to Jack. She ends the number by sitting on the piano bench beside him. After the countdown to midnight, she kisses him. Later that evening (or early morning), Susie and Jack are the only ones left in the room. As she talks about her former job as an escort, he begins to massage her shoulders, then, unzips her dress and rubs her back. After a passionate kiss, he lays her on a table (sexual activity is certainly implied, but not seen). Back home from their engagement at the resort, Frank, Jack and Susie meet at a diner to discuss future bookings. While Susie and Frank argue about potential places to play and song selections, Jack sits silently. When Susie walks out, Jack suggests that Frank loosen her leash. Later, Susie finds Jack playing jazz in a dingy night club. He never notices her; he is lost in the music and is playing much more expressively. When he returns to his apartment, Susie is sitting on the steps waiting for him. Early the next morning, Susie is dressing to sneak out, but Nina comes through the window to take Jack's dog out for his morning walk. Susie finds an old photograph of Jack and Frank. The photo was taken when they were much younger and they are holding a bottle of liquor towards the camera. By this time Jack is awake and tells her the photo was taken at their first professional gig. She says she came by to tell him she has been thinking about leaving the act. Some guy wants her to sing commercial jingles. Showing no feelings at all, Jack encourages her to take the job. He says they can always find another girl. At their next performance at the Hilton Old America Lounge, they perform "Feelings." Susie quits in the middle of the song; she says she just can't sing it anymore. Later, when she tells Jack she quit, just like before, he seems unfazed. She accuses him of being cold and uncaring about anything. She also tells him she saw him playing jazz at the dingy night club; "dusting off his dreams," she called it. As she turns to walk away, she calls him a coward. Frank booked the piano duo for a telethon because, he said, it would be good publicity. However, the telethon is on a small station and they are performing at 3 a.m. Just as they start to play, the telethon M.C. interrupts to announce an updated total. Jack explodes, charges the M.C. and walks out of the studio. Frank accuses him of being unprofessional and lauds himself as being the responsible one. They also argue about Susie, especially that Jack and she slept together (more explicit language was used). Their argument escalates into a fight where Jack almost breaks Frank's finger. Then before Frank can protest, Jack turns away and disappears into the night. On the way back to his apartment, Jack stops in a diner. The waitress is Monica, who sings a bit of "Candy Man" to remind Jack of who she is. Jack almost propositions her, but a Susie thought makes him change his mind. Once Jack gets home, he is in such a foul mood that he takes it out on Nina. She runs out of his apartment up to the roof, where Jack finds her. He apologizes and also offers to teach her something else to play besides "Jingle Bells." After a few days, Jack goes to see Frank at his home to tell him he isn't coming back to the duo. He says he can't play the same songs the same way every night anymore. They open the bottle of booze they had received at the first professional engagement and drink. Then at the two pianos they started on many years before, for old times sake, they play and sing "You're Sixteen." The film's final scene shows Jack waiting outside Susie's apartment. She's progressed from cat food jingles to vegetables. They both apologize for the way they acted when she left the act. She asks if they found a new girl singer. He says they didn't look for one. As she leaves to record a new jingle, he asks, "Am I going to see you again?" Not giving in easily, she asks, "What do you think?" He answers, "Yeah, I think Im gonna see you again." Then, after a pause, he says, "Intuition." As she walks away down the street "My Funny Valentine" is sung by Susie (or Michelle Pfeiffer) over the final credits.
    Martin D Super Reviewer
  • Feb 09, 2011
    Whatever minor quibbles I have with the story are completely made up by the remarkable chemistry of the three leads. The film is as smooth, slow, and understated as the lounge songs performed in the movie.
    Alec B Super Reviewer

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