Brothers realistic in ‘Baker Boys’ film

By Vittorio Carli

“The Fabulous Baker Boys” is a compelling drama about a pair of down-and-out musicians with a stale act.

The Bakers’ performances have become so predictable that the audience seems barely aware of their presence, so they decide to modernize their act with a female singer.

However, the women who show up to audition are either talentless or completely wrong for the act. The Baker boys are ready to give up when a gorgeous blonde arrives.

At first the brothers are hesitant to give her an audition. She arrives for the audition late and she comes off as being impertinent. Furthermore, her only experience as an entertainer is working as a call girl. She wins the brothers over and proceeds to turn their act upside down.

The two fictional brothers are played by two real life brothers, Jeff Bridges (“Cutter’s Way” and “The Jagged Edge”) and Beau Bridges (“The Landlord” and “Norma Rae”). They are completely convincining playing the Fabulous Baker Boys.

Jeff’s character, Jack Baker, often seems completely detached from his piano playing. He’s played so many shows that he’s lost the ability to take any pride in his art.

In contrast his brother, Frank, is sickeningly enthusiastic. He has a family to support and he’s not above degrading himself for publicity. He even accepts a free job for the act to play on a telathon to raise money for a gymnasium.

The insensitive talk show host interupts them during a song in order to count the pledge money. This leads to Jack throwing an angry temper tantrum while the camera is still rolling.

Michelle Pfeiffer is also superb as the hooker turned singer. She functions as a catalyst for change in the band. Her appearance forces Jack to re-examine his life and she causes a split between the two brothers. Her singing is ordinary but her performance while she is singing is memorable.

Pfeiffer exhudes sultry sensuality and the magnetism of her stage presence more than makes up for her musical shortcomings. She uses her body to excite and tantalize the audience. During the song “Making Whoopie” she crawls across a piano in a slinky red dress and she seductively strokes Jack’s cheek.

Viewers should not go to the film expecting light entertainment. The film has a very dark side to it. The character of Jack Baker is trapped behind a wall of his own making. Jack shuns commitment and he isolates himself in order to avoid getting hurt. He ends up rejecting his only visable chance at happiness and settles for a bleak and meaningless existence.

The film was directed by a newcomer named Steve Kovacs. Kovacs’ only other project was writing the script for “Racing with the Moon”. He takes a somewhat familiar storyline and manages to make it fresh and lively.