The Fabulous Baker Boys – Film Review

fabulous_baker_boysAnother DVD from Mum’s collection. I love films that revolve around music, and this one is about two brothers, Jack and Frank (real-life brothers Jeff and Beau Bridges), who make ends meet playing piano together, a double lounge act they’ve kept up for over ten years. Frank is a responsible family man and something of a worrywart, who arranges the gigs and looks after the financial side of things; Jack is a sexy taciturn loser who lives in a crappy apartment with his dog, has numerous one-night stands, and goes through life with the general air of not giving a shit about anything. Which is of course an affectation, because deep down Jack really cares about jazz and only looks truly happy when he sneaks off by himself to play at some small club. But he’s just too inert and stuck into the Fabulous Baker Boys routine to change things.

Anyways, when the opportunities run dry and one of their regular clubs won’t reschedule them, the brothers realise that maybe their act got a bit too stale, and decide to hire a female singer. After some hilariously bad auditions, they finally decide on Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer), a former escort girl who is kinda rough around the edges and has no clue what to wear onstage for a refined lounge act, but is absolutely enchanting once she starts singing. You don’t see Michelle Pfeiffer onscreen all that often anymore, sadly, so this was a startling reminder what a magnetic, drop-dead gorgeous star she is. She apparently did all of her own singing, which is also impressive. The only thing I knew about this movie was that it had a classic scene in which Pfeiffer croons while lying on top of the piano in a slinky red velvet dress, and yeah you don’t even need to be a straight male to see why that scene was memorable.

The movie doesn’t do anything particularly original – you know that Jack and Susie are going to get it on at some point, no matter how hard they try to keep their relationship purely professional, that Susie will cause friction between the brothers, and that Jack will eventually take a long hard look at himself and his life. But what it does, it does very well; it made me care about the characters and their relationships, and the script is frequently very funny. There’s also a rather wonderful score, a brief appearance by Jennifer Tilly and some fabulously tasteless late 80s fashions – there was one scene in particular where I was constantly distracted from the drama by Susie’s giant, gaudy, shiny earrings that by all rights should have made her ears fall off. Ahhh poor 80s, the one decade that will never get a fashion revival.

One thought on “The Fabulous Baker Boys – Film Review

  • The Fabulous Baker Boys has long been one of my favourite films and Susie Diamond is the role that single-handedly made Michelle Pfeiffer my favourite actress.
    Honestly, that scene with Michelle singing Makin’ Whoopee atop a piano exemplifies everything I love about film. Simply magical.


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