The Hudsucker Proxy is perhaps the most overlooked entry into the Coen Brothers’ filmography, which is likely due to the fact that it is completely off its rocker in almost every way. In this cockamamie satire of big business and capitalism Tim Robbins stars as Norville Barnes, a buffoonish but sincere college graduate looking to move up in the world. After Hudsucker Industries loses its founder and President to suicide the powers that be (led by a hilarious Paul Newman) decide to promote Barnes to become President in order to allow the company’s stock to plummet so the board members can reap the inevitable benefits. Thrown into the mix is Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a hard working fast-talking journalist attempting to “get in” with the new President of Hudsucker.
The film that follows is, to be frank, batshit crazy. And this is in the context of the Brothers’ other works. Every word of dialogue, every movement, and every gesture from Tim Robbins is outlandish and absurd, and the Brothers pull no punches in layering on the satire. It’s interesting that what is one of the Coen Brothers’ most “mainstream” films, with larger production design to boot, is perhaps their wackiest. There are snippets of mainstream fare, including the charming romance between Barnes and Archer, but all in all this is as off-the-wall as the most absurd moments of Burn After Reading or Raizing Arizona and then some. Every performance is dialed up and outrageous, with many characters fumbling, bumbling, or downright shouting their way throughout the entire film. If you’re looking for a light hearted punch-in-the-ribs to capitalism you can’t go wrong with The Hudsucker Proxy.