Hudsucker Industries is a company on a roll. Profits are soaring and all is full speed ahead. It seems that nothing can stop this juggernaut, expect…
… When Company President Waring Hudsucker trips the light fantastic down the boardroom table before hurtling through the window, 45 stories down to the pavement below.
The board mourns for only a few brief seconds before taking stock. With Hudsucker’s shares destined to be put up for grabs at the end of eye year, and with the board not having sufficient capital to buy them at the current high price, the challenge is to drop the price sufficiently to enable the board to snap them up at bargain basement rates before rebuilding momentum and share price.
But dropping the share price dramatically requires bad decisions and bad management, so lead board ‘puppeteer’ Musberger (Paul Newman) searches high and wide to find a clueless patsy.
Enter Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins), a man so green he has no experience with which to gain experience, a man plucked from mail room obscurity and elevated to the top floor so fast that his former workmates didn’t get the chance to learn his name. A man whose Big Idea looks like a circle…
As news of this new promotion goes to press the public are understandably surprised and concerned. The local paper wants the real story behind Norville Barnes, so it sics tenacious Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) on the case. Archer is a fast talking, take no prisoners bulldog, the perfect weapon for the unguarded Barnes, who not only falls for Archer, he puts her on his personal staff.
With access to the real story, Archer pens a scathing article lambasting the hire and Norville’s abilities. The company is publicly reamed.
The share price falls further.
Then a funny thing happens. First, as Archer spends more time with Norville she grows fond of him and regrets her earlier story and wondering if she perhaps went too far. Second and more tellingly, Norville manages to turn the fortunes of the company around with one simple invention.
As with all Coen brothers films this story is as successful as the characters, and while Barnes and Archer are a fine pair and share some good scenes the rest of the film lacks any standouts, even Paul Newman failing to demand attention as the gruff and cagy Musberger.
The humour is broad, light and fluffy, with the humour emanating more from silly dialogue delivered in rapid fire style than actual jokes. And the ending is quite frankly silly, and a bit of a cop out that not many other directors would walk away from unscathed.
Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. The Hudsucker Proxy is pleasant but not filling, and has nothing that will stay with you for long.