The Fabulous Baker Boys 2.0 stars

Fabulous Baker Boys movie poster

Music-making on the show-biz fringes: the hotel lounges of the Pacific Northwest. A sibling piano duo, a sort of fraternal Ferrante and Teicher, have been making a go of it for fifteen years. One of them (Beau Bridges) tries hard to keep up appearances; the other (real brother Jeff, with permanent cotton-mouth and an endless chain of cigarettes) has stopped trying: there's a brooding jazzman imprisoned in his fingertips. In a desperate attempt to enliven the act, they add a female vocalist (Michelle Pfeiffer, with her anorexic sex appeal, and a 1940s torch-singer style not quite bad enough to be funny or quite good enough to be fun). And this, as you will have guessed, spells trouble. Some of the humor is so broad (e.g., the audition scene, with a sparkling turn by Jennifer Tilly) that it hinders the movie on its way to the depths of gloom. (Cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, working in a lightly frosted half-light, is down there throughout.) But the satirical bits are much more treasurable than the solemnities about artistic expression, self-fulfillment, personal commitment -- all that jazz. Written and directed by Steve Kloves. 1989.

Duncan Shepherd

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