The Fabulous Baker Boys
By Robert Horton
An inspired casting gimmick, a wonderful mood, a grown-up love
story--all this in The Fabulous Baker Boys, but the only thing
anybody ever talks about is Michelle Pfeiffer on top of a piano. Granted,
it's a showstopper: clad in a slinky dress, Pfeiffer rolls around on the
Steinway while she purrs out a languid version of "Makin'
Whoopee." Adding to the seductive vibe is the fact that she's not
singing to the audience, but to the sullen piano player (Jeff Bridges)
whose fancy she has captured. Bridges and his real-life brother, Beau,
play two lounge entertainers whose act has grown stale; they're not above
doing "Feelings" for the tourist crowd. They've hired songbird
Pfeiffer (who does her own sexy singing) to spice up the routine, a
strategy that pays off in spades. The three actors are terrific, with the
fabulous Bridges boys playing neatly off their own sibling rhythms.
Writer-director Steve Kloves captures the feel of second-rate Seattle
clubs, and Dave Grusin's jazzy score keeps propelling the film forward.
The story itself might have come from a 1940s romance, yet Kloves and his
actors keep it unusually modern and thoughtful. And then there's Michelle
Pfeiffer rolling around on top of a piano....
The Fabulous Baker Boys received Academy Awards
nominations for Best Performance By an Actress in a Leading Role (Michelle
Pfeiffer), Best Achievement in Cinematography (Michael Ballhaus), Best
Achievement in Film Editing (William Steinkamp) and Best Achievement in
Music (Original Score; Dave Grusin).