11 December 2007 | blanche-2
A singer changes a brothers' music team and their relationship
Jeff Bridges and Beau Bridges are "The Fabulous Baker Boys" in this 1989 film also starring Michelle Pfeiffer. The Baker Boys have been playing dual pianos on the lounge circuit for years, with Frank (Beau) acting as the booking manager and accountant. When the bookings dry up, the brothers decide to hire a singer. She's Susie Diamond, a gorgeous blond with a sultry voice and sexy appearance that gives the Baker Boys the pizazz that they need to pick up better gigs and more of them. Of course, one can't wait for the handsome, quietly intense Jack (Jeff) and Susie to give into their sexual chemistry, despite Frank's warnings that Jack's hit and run technique will not work with a teammate. When Frank is called away on a family emergency, more than sex happens. Ultimately Susie's bluntness and ability to see a situation for what it is makes Jack realize he hates the act, hates the way his brother handles it, and hates himself for not pursuing work as a jazz musician.
Someone wrote that the plot is thin - not really. The sibling dynamics are real, pent up, and the product of years of lip-biting, Jack becoming more and more introverted and Frank more desperate to work so he can support his family. It takes an outsider to bring tempers to a boil.
The film is very well done, with great music throughout, including some very hot singing by Pfeiffer. The highlight of the movie is Pfeiffer rolling around on the piano as she sings to Jack. She's really at the height of her beauty and can compare favorably to any Hollywood goddess of the past. Her performance as a street-wise singer who's had it tough is excellent, right down to the chewing gum and the crystal jewelry. Beau Bridges is perfectly cast. He plays a working musician for whom music is a job - and yet he's proud of the act, insistent on having "Feelings" in every show they do, and likes songs like "Bali Hai." Then we come to Jeff Bridges, certainly one of the sexiest men to ever come down the pike - tall and handsome, he is the essence of true jazz musician here - passionate on the piano, cool, loving the night life and the attendant bad habits of drinking and smoking. He's all tied up in his inability to break free of his brother, and it's expressed in every non-expression, every puff of his cigarette. He's fantastic.
Another reviewer on this site stated that non-musicians probably can't understand Jack's frustration about the music. It's true, I'm a trained musician and related to his crisis immediately. But I think many people are in jobs they don't like, many people have a book they never finished because the kids came along - I think this is a very appealing story.
I remember this film getting a big build-up when it was released, but many people on IMDb feel it's underrated. I didn't realize it was, but if it is, it shouldn't be. What a movie - a strange kind of a love story for sure, between a man and his music, but a love story nevertheless.