The Hudsucker Proxy

Critics Consensus

Intriguingly strange and visually distinctive, The Hudsucker Proxy is ultimately almost -- but not quite -- as smart and absorbing as it needs to be.

59%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 44

79%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 43,225

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Movie Info

Greedy executive Sidney J. Mussburger (Paul Newman) hopes to take control of the company he works for by purchasing a majority share -- but he must first devalue the stock. So he convinces the board to appoint know-nothing recent graduate Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins). But Mussburger's plot backfires when Barnes' latest invention succeeds, thereby increasing the company's value. Worse yet, undercover reporter Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has the scoop on Mussburger's shady dealings.

Cast & Crew

Tim Robbins
Norville Barnes
Paul Newman
Sidney J. Mussburger
Charles Durning
Waring Hudsucker
John Mahoney
Chief Editor Manhattan Argus
Jim True-Frost
Buzz the Elevator Operator
Bill Cobbs
Moses the Clock Man
Bruce Campbell
Smitty, Argus Reporter
Joe Grifasi
Lou the Cabbie
John Seitz
Bennie the Cabbie
Joel Coen
Director
Joel Coen
Screenwriter
Ethan Coen
Screenwriter
Sam Raimi
Screenwriter
Tim Bevan
Executive Producer
Eric Fellner
Executive Producer
Carter Burwell
Original Music
Roger Deakins
Cinematographer
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News & Interviews for The Hudsucker Proxy

Critic Reviews for The Hudsucker Proxy

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (18)

  • It is possible to create something emotionally true out of second-hand ingredients, in fact that's what Hollywood does, but it isn't the Coen Brothers' strong point.

    November 16, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Quote not available.

    September 7, 2011 | Rating: C | Full Review…
  • A visually arresting but emotionally uninvolving dark comedy.

    November 6, 2007
  • A jeering, dreamlike comedy with nothing much on its mind except how neat the Coen brothers are and how stupid or contemptible everybody else is, including everyone in the audience.

    November 6, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Nearly everything in the Coen brothers' latest and biggest film seems like a wizardly but artificial synthesis, leaving a hole in the middle where some emotion and humanity should be.

    November 6, 2007

    Todd McCarthy

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • A minor work, but confirmation of the Coens' position among America's most ambitious, able and exciting film-makers.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Hudsucker Proxy

  • Mar 30, 2019
    I'm going to be honest here, this is one of the Coen's lesser films in my opinion. The biggest reason for that being it somehow stimultaniously feels overstuffed with too much while also being kind of dull. There's times when it races, and times when it sort of just drags. It seems to be searching for a type of comedy that the Coens would later perfect in movies like Burn After Reading, but this is definitely the beta version of that. I feel like with another script rewrite, and some tightening of the editing and cutting the time down, it could be a great film. As is though, it's still a Coen film, and they don't really make bad films. I still really liked what the film was doing. As sort of a tribute to old school screwball Hollywood the movie is fun. The fast-paced dialogue that you really have to pay attention to and quick blink-and-you'll-miss-it visual gags are often brilliant, and the movie is just damn gorgeous in it's expressionist visualization of New York. It's story is silly, and frankly kind of stupid, but I think it's supposed to be, and for what it is it works. It is a little long and a little clumsy, but it's a fun movie. Not their best, but it's hard not to be charmed by it.
    Michael M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 08, 2015
    The Hudsucker Proxy is a fun fun film and the less seriously you take it, the more you will enjoy it. The shooting is great to watch and the sets are great to look at. The story and acting are appropriately silly. Might have rated this five stars as it is very well-done but it is also a very light film.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 04, 2014
    By this time in 1994, the Coen brothers were still on something of a high from the biting drama "Barton Fink", while Robbins was wrapping up with "The Shawshank Redemption", so, of course, the only natural progression from there is a screwball comedy. You know, I think that you should probably figure out what you're in for when you find that this business-themed period piece is about the invention of the hula-hoop, and even approaches such subject matter loosely, but hey, if anyone can make subject matter like that interesting, well, the Coens wouldn't be my first choice, even if "Blood Simple" was already ten years old by the release of this film. I joke about how the Coens are expected to do straight pictures, but "Barton Fink" was quite the colorful black comedy, and keep in mind that the Coens also had "Raising Arizona" under their belt by this time, so over-the-top comedy was more expected than dry dramas like "Blood Simple". Well, I don't exactly know why they had to go through the trouble of having the script co-written by Sam Raimi, who was still on a high from "Army of Darkness", unless Raimi owed the Coens for getting them to co-write "Crimewave" when they were up-and-comers who couldn't afford big flops like that. Shoot, if you ask me, I'd say Rami owes the Coens again for this film, because I don't know if the Coens and Raimi have quite the same taste in slapstick. They must have been throwing someone off with this collaboration, because this film was a critical disappointment, and, boy howdy, was it ever a financial disappointment, and yet, compared to "Crimewave", it's a successful as, well, "The Shawshank Redemption". In terms of quality, however, well, I don't know what to tell you, because, like everyone else, I didn't see "Crimewave", but I can tell you that this film is decent on its own, no matter how hard it may be to keep from comparing this flick to others. By this time, the Coen brothers had made their share of filmmaking breakthroughs, but here, they don't simply fail too innovate, but have a tendency to underplay satire to the point of making the tropes feel more trite than self-aware, and when these thematic conventions meet structural conventions, you end up with a surprisingly formulaic telling of a tale of limited consequence to begin with. As you can imagine, this film's story concept is nothing special, being mostly fluffy with only an ambition for wit, rather than meat, which is distancing enough without being largely defined by characters who, even on paper, are thinly drawn and unlikable in a lot of ways. It's hard to not question a lot of elements in the film's narrative ideas, and their interpretation doesn't help, as the Coens' and Sam Raimi's script flaunts its share of set pieces which are too improbable to be embraced in the concept of an intentionally screwball plot, and of dialogue pieces which are snappy to the point of freneticism, further reflected within many moments of hyper directorial overstylization. On many more occasions than I expected, storytelling gets to be overwrought to the point of doing away with subtlety, and when it's not doing that, it's annoying with all of its over-the-top fluff, until freneticism is abandoned a little too decidedly. More than it is aggravatingly break-neck, this fluff piece's pacing is uneven, thus, when it's not moving way too fast, it's moving way too slow, ultimately reaching a runtime of almost two hours that is hardly reasonable, with repetitious filler and expendable material that stiffen pacing enough without the application of that classic Coen thoughtfulness which simply doesn't belong in a film like this. The film can't seem to figure out if it wants to be pure fluff or something of another clever Coen opus, and such a lack of decisiveness makes the film neither lively enough to be fun nor restrained enough to be subtle, until the final product finds itself falling quite shy of potential, limited though it may be. Nonetheless, the film entertains enough to get by, with wit, color and, of course, style. If nothing else, this film ranks among the strongest collaborations between the Coen brothers and Carter Burwell, whose score, ostensibly partly inspired by Sam Raimi's involvement in this project, adopts a certain Danny Elfman whimsy that, while not especially unique, adds to the colorful flavor of the film's artistic value. Roger Deakins' subtly tastefully toned and stylishly staged cinematography catches eyes, as surely as Burwell's efforts captures ears, though that might largely be because the handsome lensing falls over handsome art direction, courtesy of Leslie McDonald, who subtly, but distinctly captures the 1950s setting which do a lot to define this story. More defining of the film is themes on business sleaze and corruption, and a fluffy flavor, both of which are either too underplayed or overblown to make an especially intriguing story concept, but still stand firm enough to craft some interesting, if formulaic ideas that the Coens and Sam Raimi, as screenwriters, do justice about as much as they betray, with memorable highlights in colorful characterization, and thoroughly clever highlights in snappy dialogue and dynamic humor which ranges from subtly satirical to delightfully over-the-top and screwball. Likely because the Coens' and Raimi's tastes in comical and structural subtlety clash, the film is often either obnoxious or underwhelming with its color, of which there is enough for the script to stand as generally solid, sold by the Coens' direction, perhaps too much so. The Coens go all-out in beating you over the head with the subtlety lapses, and blanding things up with momentum lapses, but at the same time, they go all-out in selling the many highlights in fluff as entertaining, partly by working well with talented performers, as usual. Granted, more than a few performances are a little over-the-top, but just about everyone shines with charm, alone, with Jennifer Jason Leigh being impressively committed in her delivery of admittedly obnoxious rapid-fire dialogue, while Paul Newman proves to be effective as a generic sleaze, and leading man Tim Robbins proves to be particularly charming as an everyman audience avatar, distinguished by some somewhat dramatic layering that Robbins nails with a surprising amount of subtlety. Like I said, the film has difficulty in gaining a grip on its style, but it never lets entertainment value slips too far from its fingers, standing firm enough throughout the final product's course to craft a fair opus, in spite of its messiness. Overall, there are formulaic elements to the telling of a thin and improbable story concept, in addition to many an obnoxiously over-the-top and many a blandly draggy momentum, thus, the final product falls as pretty underwhelming, but not to where whimsical scoring, immersive art direction, generally sharply colorful writing and direction, and charming performances fail to carry "The Hudsucker Proxy" as a somewhat forgettable, but nonetheless adequately lively satire on the sleaze of company business. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Nov 22, 2012
    average acting, a few really funny moments at the start but apart from that and the signature shooting style it didnt have alot to offer. other films have explored the same themes better and more coherently. flabby
    Sanity Assassin ! Super Reviewer

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