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20th Century Fox presents
Pushing Tin (1999)

"I've lost the reality of my reality."
- Nick Falzone (John Cusack)

Review By: Robert Mandel   
Published: May 07, 2000

Stars: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thorton
Other Stars: Angelina Jolie, Cate Blanchett
Director: Mike Newell

MPAA Rating: R for language and a scene of sexuality.
Run Time: 02h:04m:00s
Release Date: October 05, 1999
UPC: 086162123061
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ B-C+A- D-

DVD Review

Nick Falzone (John Cusack) is a man who is so used to being in control—in his marriage, his friendships, his job. Working in the high pressure cooker job of an air traffic controller, Nick is known to his co-workers as "No Fly Zone" for his ability to handle the pressure of moving airplanes around the New York City airspace, from which the name Pushing Tin comes. Having married his high school sweetheart (Cate Blanchett), Nick considers himself in enough control to sow his wild oats he missed out on growing up, regardless of his wife and two kids.

When an apparently crazy new controller comes to town, Russell Bell (Billy Bob Thorton), Nick becomes threatened and the flow of testosterone begins to ebb. When Nick takes it one step too far and sleeps with Russell's wife, Anjelina Jolie, his life, and his control of it, begins to crash around him. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and Nick's ego was huge.

The rest of the film is predictable and uninventive.

A movie must be like a well-oiled machine, otherwise it may snort and ping its way along without much success. Despite its extraordinary cast, the rest of this machine is in a state of serious disrepair. It is in fits and starts a comedy, a drama, a sappy love story, a moralistic suburban fable. When this film grows up I hope it knows what it wants to be.

Some people won't make it past the first few minutes of air traffic controller speak without falling asleep (like my fiance). In fact, for the first third of the movie the dialogue is generally clunky and insufferable. This film does have its funny and touching moments, but I may never erase from my memory the awkward way in which Billy Bob takes his long distance shot. I also think they ruined some of the CGI work by over using it, particularly the Twister's "there's a cow" approach to the second runway sequence with Cusack and Thorton, which looks entirely too hokey.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Fox streets this non-anamorphic transfer in its 2.35:1 original widescreen theatrical aspect ratio. Although I suspect either a source issue, or perhaps a beta disc issue, the opening shot (which is entirely too disturbing despite being CGI) and many other outdoor day shots are too bright and without sufficient contrast, while the colors during indoor shots are bright and well saturated, with normal looking flesh tones. A mixed bag.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Surround 2.0 is adequate for the task, but, as usual, not up to the discrete channeling of the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix included (and accessible via remote) . The sweeping effects of planes passing over your head across the room is finely done, with the bassy .1 LFE rumbling of the engines included. The dialogue is well rendered, and there are not many volume climbs or drops to deal with. The sound mixer's best friend, the stormy weather scene, is immersive, giving off the sense that one should seek shelter beneath the couch. Which is how I felt having been forced to listen to John Cusack sing...but that's another story.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Packaging: Alpha
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: A basically supplemental-less disc, containing only subtitles as a vague extra. Not even the obligatory trailer. The theme music on the animated menu IS WAY TOO LOUD. Beware.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Truthfully, if this wonderful cast couldn't save this film, a whole slew of additional features wouldn't have saved this film as it has others on DVD (Godzilla, Lost in Space, Armageddon). Fox obviously knew not to waste too much effort on this DVD. The film has its moments, but they are too few, and too far between the excess of horrible dialogue and overused storyline, making this disc no better than a renter.


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