CRACKERS

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Crackers Cover Now if you picked up the 'New York Times' film section, and then went on to read "The films of Louis Malle have touched the hearts and minds of audiences everywhere, and the critics agree, he is one of the most important filmmakers of his generation". Would you watch this movie? Yeah. This one Directed by Louis Malle; and Starring: Donald Sutherland, Jack Warden, and Sean Penn? It was made in 1984 and lasts for 91 minutes.


Crackers


THE STORY:
Although on the surface, Weslake (Donald Sutherland), Boardwalk (Larry Riley), Turtle (Wallace Shawn), Dillard (Sean Penn), and Ramon (Trinidad Silva), are five completely different people, with five completely different problems to contend with, underneath it all, they all have the said-same thing in common.

Hey! Don't get the wrong idea! I'm not talking about the sex-kitten traffic-warden, Maxine (Christine Baranski), silly. She's for Weslakes hands only. What I'm talking about instead, folks, is that they're all unemployed, they're all penny-less, and they all want to rob exactly the same place.

Yeah. That's right. It's that dusty old pawn-shop they all hang around in belonging to that surly skin-flint named Garvey (Jack Warden). Just the other day he had to go out of town to visit his sick old Mum, leaving it relatively unsecured, thanks to Dillard's makeshift security system.

Ha! Now can you see where this is all headed, folks? All Weslake and the guys have to do next, is figure out a way of breaking in, without getting caught. Simple as that. Right?

No. Wrong. Then again, that's most probably why what next transpires gets kicked to the curb when a plan is set in motion. As romance is in the air - a group of thieves show some flair - a burglary is suddenly cut short - and at the end of the day friendship is something that isn't very easily bought.  



THE REVIEW:
In many ways I'd say that 'Crackers' is a film very much of its time. Well, not only is it rather funny and somewhat charming as a whole, but it's also one of those movies I'd always sit down and watch, if it ever pops up on the television.

Crackers with a naked Christine Baranski and Donald Sutherland
Here. Let me tell you why. (1) OK. So I wouldn't call this film a laugh out loud gag-fest. Agreed. But what I would call it, folks, is a very amusing comedy that has some very witty moments scattered throughout it. I mean, have you ever seen a scene where a man is trying to chat up a woman whilst carrying his own baby in his arms? Or what about a scene where another chap eats cat food whilst planning a heist with his chums? (2) On a purely narrative level this movie is all over the place structurally. One minute it focuses on the 'heist' part of the story-line. While the next minute is focuses on one the secondary sub-plots. Hey! Don't get me wrong. This isn't a judgment call I'm making. It's just an observation is all. Nothing more. Nothing less. (3) If you're a big fan of one-dimensional characters with three-dimensional attributes, look no further, because this is defiantly the film for you. You name it. It has it. One way of another there is a great character on offer that has some very memorable character traits. For example, Wallace's character is always eating. Larry's character is nigh on always hold his cute baby. Sean's character is always pining over the girl of his dreams. Plus Donald's and Trinidad's characters have a somewhat assertive way about them, despite exploring this particular trait, depending on their age and race. (5) As implied in my previous two statements, there are quite a few silly sub-plots floating all over this flick. Now I'm sure there's some people our there that might find this sort of thing rather distracting within a story such as this one. Me, though -- nah -- I kind of liked it. Inadvertently it gave each character a chance to define who they are as people, even though, on occasion, I would have preferred it if the main 'heist plot-line' took center stage. (6) The three principle female leads in this film are as charming as charming can be. Especially Christine Baranski. My God! She is defiantly a sight for saw eyes I can tell you. Wink-Wink! (7) Oh! While I'm on the topic of women, I've got to mention that I wasn't too sure about the Sean Penn / Tasia Valenza romantic sub-plot myself. Sometimes it was quite pleasant. Other times I would have favored to watch the main tale in itself. 50 / 50.


Crackers starring Donald Sutherland, Jack Warden, and Sean Penn


Crackers starring Sean Penn
Hey, pal! Can you guess what I'm going to be talking about next? No. Not porn. Filmic-facts, silly. (1) 'Universal Pictures' first screened this production at the 'Sundance Film Festival' in the same month Vanessa Williams was asked to resign as 'Miss America' -- January, 1984. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'High Incompetence' in Brazil; 'The Usual Suspects Made in the USA' in Italy; and 'Five Crooks Do Break' in Germany. (3) Jeffrey Alan Fiskin, who wrote the screenplay for this crime-caper, also wrote such TV movies as 'The 70's', 'The 60's', and 'From the Earth to the Moon'. (4) The Australian tagline used to promote this picture, was, 'The comedy that dreams the impossible scheme!'. (5) Although this flick isn't connected to the 1998 Australian comedy of the same name -- 'Crackers' -- it is connected to the 1958 Mario Monicelli film -- 'Big Deal on Madonna Street' -- because it's a remake. The only difference though, is that the last version was made in Italy, whilst this version was shot throughout the American state of San Francisco. (6) If you've taken the previous fact into account, do you think it's just a coincidence that Sean Penn married Madonna after he starred in this comedy? Ha! (7) This was the second of four collaborations between the director, Louis Malle, and the actor, Wallace Shawn. The other three included the 1980 crime drama, 'Atlantic City', the 1981 biographical melodrama, 'My Dinner with Andre', and the 1994 rom-com, 'Vanya on 42nd Street'. (8) The pretty Mexican lady who played Maria in this comedy, Tasia Valenza, was the voice over artist on such video games as 'Marvel Heroes', 'Batman: Arkham City', plus 'Star Wars: The Old Republic'. (9) After its initial screening in 1984, the film was entered into the 34th Berlin Film Festival.


Crackers Starring Sean Penn and Tasia Valenza


Overall I'd say that 'Crackers' is a pretty decent film to sit down and watch. All of the characters were well defined. The story was both multifaceted and flim-flammy in execution. Plus on a personal note, I liked it; and that enough for yours truly.

Nuff said.

THE RATING: B+