You know, for kids!
A 1994 retro-screwball comedy directed by The Coen Brothers
, from a story devised by them and Sam Raimi
. A box office and critical flop when it was released, but has been somewhat Vindicated by History
Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins
), a recently graduated business major, makes his way from his hometown of Muncie, Indiana, to New York City to "make it big." He winds up working in the mailroom of the monolithic Hudsucker Industries, whose CEO, Waring Hudsucker (Charles Durning
), has recently committed suicide. On the day he is hired, Norville is given the task of delivering an important letter from Hudsucker to Sidney Mussburger (Paul Newman
), the second-in-command at Hudsucker Industries.
Meanwhile, Mussburger is upstairs trying to calm the board of directors. Apparently, Hudsucker had no will, which means according to company policy his majority stock share in the company must be put up for sale on the open market within six month's time. This means the company would be open to hostile takeover by whomever can buy the expensive shares. Mussburger hits upon the idea of appointing an idiot as a secret "proxy," someone who can be easily controlled and cause the company's profitability to tank without doing any lasting damage.
This way, with stock prices depressed because of poor profitability, Mussburger and the other members of the board can buy up the shares on the cheap quickly when they go up for sale, and maintain control.
Soon enough, Norville appears at Mussburger's door, with the letter, but Barnes is so eager to mention his ideas for the company that he never does deliver the letter, and ends up nearly killing Mussburger during their first meeting. Mussburger comes away convinced he's an idiot...but just the right kind of idiot for his needs, and so Barnes is quickly made the new CEO of Hudsucker Industries, with Mussburger's secret plan in action, and Barnes has an idea for a new toy - you know, for kids.
This film contains examples of:
- Almighty Janitor: One scene involves a brawl between two of them, either one capable of freezing time for the rest of the universe.
- Anachronism Stew: The film is supposed to be set in 1958, but except for the beatnik and the hula hoop, everything seems more 1930s-ish.
- And There Was Much Rejoicing: Hudsucker's death, for quite a few people. He had just jumped when Mussburger (his Vice-President) took the cigar he had left behind and started to smoking it, procaiming it would be a shame to "waste a Montecristo".
- Artifact of Doom: The way the people in Hudsucker Industries react to the dreaded Blue Letter makes you think it was made of pure evil.
- Beatnik: Norville stumbles drunk into a Beatnik juice and coffee bar on New Year's Eve.
- Becoming the Mask: Amy Archer goes undercover at Hudsucker as a country-girl secretary to expose Norville as an imbecile. She ends up falling in love with him instead.
- Divine Race Lift: It's implied that the clock tower worker may be God.
- Death by Materialism: Very barely averted by Mr. Mussburger, thanks to his tailor.
- Deus ex Machina: Oh, so very much. After over an hour of film about business practices, Norville's attempt to kill himself is stopped when an Almighty Janitor stops a clock, thus STOPPING TIME, and giving Norville time to talk to the (deceased) ex-CEO.
- Driven to Suicide: Norville after his fall from grace. Mussburger once he learns of Hudsucker's Lost Will And Testament.
- Extra! Extra! Read All About It!: "The Man from Muncie: a Moron after all! Read all about it!"
- Football Fight Song:
Fight on, fight on Dear Old Muncie
Fight on, hoist the gold and blue
You'll be tattered, torn, and hurten
Once the Munce is through with you
- Genre Savvy: The two flatulent cabbies who narrate the entirety of Amy Archer's play to win her way into Norville Barnes' graces.
Lou: That gag's so old it's got whiskers on it!
- Holy Halo: Lampshaded by the late Mr. Hudsucker calling it a "fad" with the "boys upstairs."
- Hot Scoop: Amy Archer
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Vic Tenetta bears a striking resemblance to Dean Martin.
- Lost Will And Testament: Hudsucker didn't leave one behind, which is why Mussburger developed the proxy plan in the first place. Turns out, the blue letter Norville was supposed to deliver to Mussburger was the will, giving the stock to whomever the board appointed the new CEO of the company, giving Neville one heck of an Unexpected Inheritance.
- Motor Mouth: Amy occasionally, but most prominently the mail room orientation guy. Also, Buzz.
- Mr. Exposition: The narrator handyman. Also, the pair of cab drivers, to a lesser extent.
- Mundane Made Awesome: The entire process detailing the invention and production of the Hula Hoop. Detailed blueprints are produced and patented, the entire accounting department performs extensive research to come up with the retail price (of $1.79), a trio of guys run through countless names for the project, safety is practiced using explosives, and a fairly elaborate machine is used to make the things.
- Na´ve Newcomer: Norville, fresh from business school, ends up in the mailroom but has big ideas.
- When he learned Amy was a journalist who only approached him because of her work, he still believed she was from Muncie.
- Newsreel: One provides exposition about the hula hoop craze - with narration by John Goodman.
- One of the Boys: Amy Archer, fast-talking career gal.
- Overly-Long Gag: The laughing scene after Norville becomes president.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Hiya buddy, the name's Buzz, I got the fuzz, I make the elevator do what she does!
- Serious Business: A very literal example. The scene showing an ironic amount of Research and Development that went into designing... a circular piece of plastic. From blueprints with just a circle on them to an army of accountants to decide the MSRP.
- Shout-Out: Jennifer Jason Leigh's performance is a direct reference to Rosalind Russell's role in His Girl Friday. Also, several references to Metropolis and 1984 particularly the more recent version.
- Soft Glass: Used both straight and subverted.
- Speaking Simlish: There's one instance where Norville claims to have studied Finnish and engages in a short discussion with a Mr. Finlandsson- not a single word of Finnish is actually spoken, but a rather Swedish-sounding string of nonsense, and the film plays this as if Barnes spoke something higly offensive to Mr. Finlandsson.
- Stealth Pun: The last line in the film.
Moses: And that's the story of how Norville Barnes climbed waaay up to the forty-fourth floor of the Hudsucker Building, and then fell all the way down but didn't quite squish hisself. You know, they say there was a man who jumped from the forty-fifth floor? But that's another story!
- Time Stands Still: Time miraculously stops when a broomstick jams the gears of the clock tower, allowing Norville to survive the fall from the Hudsucker building ledge, have a chat with the angel of the late Mr. Hudsucker in mid-air, and learn that the company is all his according to the infamous Blue Letter... yet the snow never stops falling.
- Unexpected Inheritance: Norville didn't expect to inherit Waring Hudsucker's shares of Hudsucker Industries.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Mussburger didn't have much time to get used to being CEO of Hudsucker Industries before Hudsucker's will renders his efforts moot.