The Hudsucker Proxy

Rated PG 111 minutes

A fantasy about the invention and mass marketing of the hula hoop as seen through the rise to executive power of a hayseed (Tim Robbins) gulled by both a cynical vice president (Paul Newman) and a cynical reporter (Jennifer Jason Leigh). The year is supposed to be 1958, but the filmmakers are Joel and Ethan Coen, the Beavis and Butt-head of independents, who clearly consider themselves better than history, so what we get are various elements swiped from other movies made between 1929 and 1994, the year this was released. Their massive borrowings from Frank Capra, Preston Sturges, Billy Wilder, and Terry Gilliam (plus a giant clock from The Horn Blows at Midnight) are blended with fancy sets to yield a jeering, dreamlike comedy with little on its mind except how neat the Coens are and how stupid or contemptible everybody else is, including the audience.

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