The Hudsucker Proxy

Year: 1994

Synopsis: Naive young business school graduate is installed as the new president of Hudsucker Industries as part of a scheme by the board to manipulate the company’s stock.

Pros:
• The surreal, impressionistic take on the machine that is New York City drove the film in both beautiful and haunting ways, as it was a wonderful homage to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927).
• All the actors fit their roles with ease, sure-sure, but Paul Newman was a brilliant dictatorial antagonist.
• The story of New York City as a machine that could suck the hope out of people was all too familiar.
• While not always laugh-out-loud, the humor was strong and from an ultimately positive place.
• Though certainly shady, the fact that the board implemented the stock manipulations scheme under the assumption of no real negative consequence was genuinely haunting.

Cons:
• The overall narrative was a bit slow and self-indulgent at times, while not wholly unpredictable.
• Some of the anti-corporate humor might have been too sly for some.
• The hula hoop subplot was a bit too farcically parodic at times.

Discussion:
The gulf between education and experience perfectly framed the film. Sure-sure, we can come to the world with a decent education and high ambition, but not every field may provide that real “experience” on the education side. As such, the nightmare of the naive self being manipulated by someone like Mussburger (Paul Newman) as part of a dark scheme was all too plausible. Fortunately, Barnes (Tim Robbins) was genuinely smart, so he was just barely able to survive becoming a corporate pawn. Not everyone may be so lucky. Being stuck in the mailroom or elevator for fifty years seemed like a major possibility in the Hudsucker world. Hudsucker Proxy was a film about capturing the right moments in a largely uncontrollable machine, and then learning how to still navigate nearly incomprehensible machinations. There was a faint glimmer of hope within the gray machine of reality’s many floors, counting the mezzanine.


Rotten Tomatoes — 56%

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