Pushing Tin (1999)

(On VHS, November 2000) John Cusack plays young cool professional types like no others (see Grosse Pointe Blank and City Hall), and here he plays yet another one of those, a hot-shot air traffic controller that has to defend his turf and his wife against a new hotter-shot competitor (a good turn by Billy Bob Thornton). The difference is that Cusack here is supposed to Lose It, which we never quite believe. Part of the problem is typecasting, but most of it is the script, which flits from one thing to another without really coming up with strong material. As with most docu-stories taking place in unusual and interesting environments, Pushing Tin is best when describing the unusual, and worst when inserting familiar plots in this unfamiliar setting. Here, the romantic elements take away from the pressure-cooker environment of air controllers and ultimately bring down the film to only average status. Babe-wise, Cate Blanchett and Angelina Jolie are fun to watch as The Wives, even though Vicki Lewis is underused as one of the interchangeable other controllers.

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