Review: ‘The Fabulous Baker Boys’

There's nothing startlingly original about this smoothly made little romantic comedy of two piano-playing brothers who find an attractive young singer to give some much needed CPR to their dying lounge act.

There’s nothing startlingly original about this smoothly made little romantic comedy of two piano-playing brothers who find an attractive young singer to give some much needed CPR to their dying lounge act.

The first look at cynical, seen-it-all Jack Baker (Jeff Bridges) and his bubbling, ever-optimistic brother Frank (Beau Bridges) tells us that’s necessary to know about them.

When they’re joined by sexy-surly singer Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer), it’s obvious exactly where the film is headed. Jack and Susie are on a romantic collision course, with Frank bound to be hurt by the explosion.

The fun part is seeing it all play out, thanks to a standout cast and first-time director Steve Kloves’ skill in handling them.

The focus of all eyes is on Pfeiffer. The actress, who does all her own singing, is required to play a character whose vocal abilities are good, but not so good as to make a viewer wonder why she hasn’t been signed to a major label. Pfeiffer hits the nail right on the head.

She also hits the spot in the film’s certain-to-be-remembered highlight – a version of ‘Makin’ Whoopee’ that she sings while crawling all over a piano in a blazing red dress. She’s dynamite.

1989: Nominations: Best Actress (Michelle Pfeiffer), Editing, Original Score

The Fabulous Baker Boys

Production

Gladden/Mirage. Director Steve Kloves; Producer Paula Weinstein, Mark Rosenberg; Screenplay Steve Kloves; Camera Michael Ballhaus; Editor William Steinkamp; Music Dave Grusin; Art Director Jeffrey Townsend

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1989. Running time: 113 MIN.

With

Jeff Bridges Michelle Pfeiffer Beau Bridges Elie Raab Jennifer Tilly
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