Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4
"The current (air traffic control) system is 99.4% reliable," according
to an FAA spokesman, but how do the air traffic controllers, who have
the ultimate high pressure job, let off steam? The title, "Pushing Tin,"
refers to a phrase that air traffic controllers use to describe their work
- and that's the theme of this dark romantic comedy in which John Cusack
plays a vain, fast-talking "jet jockey" at New York's Terminal Radar
Approach Control (TRACON) center on Long Island that handles up to 7,000
flights a day into and out of LaGuardia, Kennedy, and Newark airports.
He's the manic, self-absorbed, dominant "top dog" until the arrival of
Billy Bob Thornton ("A Simple Thing"), a mysterious, motorcycle-riding,
half-Indian cowboy from Oklahoma with a laconic demeanor and a wild
reputation ("Did you really stand on a runway and let a 747 part your hair
with weight turbulence?"). Fueled by caffeine and machismo, a fierce,
obsessive and disruptive rivalry emerges. It's a contest of wits and
wills, where stress is the great equalizer and bravado is the lowest
common denominator, a game where the winner - not the loser - could
lose it all: his marriage, his job, and his mind. Cate Blanchett ("Elizabeth")
and Angelina Jolie (TV's "Gia") are the wives who serve as the escape
routes in their husbands' emotional and psychological lives. Director
Mike Newell ("Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Donnie Brasco") keeps the
chaotic comedy fast-paced, while Glen & Les Charles's (TV's "Taxi,"
"Cheers") relationship-oriented screenplay is based on a New York Times
Sunday Magazine article, "Something's Got to Give," by Darcy Frey. On
the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Pushing Tin" is a frantic, funny 7.
It's an inventive, intense, irreverent look at the prevention of mid-air
and mid-life collisions.
Copyright © 2000 Susan Granger