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Nobodys Fool (1994)

Paul Newman , Bruce Willis , Robert Benton    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
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Product Description


"Worn to perfection" is the tag line promoting this crafted character study. It describes Paul Newman, the resourceful 70-year-old lead actor, but not his character, Sully, a North Bath, New York, loner who totally emulates the negative definition of the title. Newman gives a brilliant performance (Oscar-nominated and winner of two critics circle awards) relying on his well-honed subtleties. The dramatics are simple: the return of his son (Dylan Walsh) and grandson, offering a chance to reconcile; odd jobs for a construction company he's trying to sue for an injury; and a comedic grudge match against the owner (a reserved Bruce Willis). North Bath is the kind of place, wrapped in winter (beautifully shot by John Bailey), where enemies are friends, marriages are shaky, and Hawaii is only a state of mind. This "town drama" of a blue-collar America offers the patient filmgoer a rich and rewarding experience. Another small gem from writer-director Robert Benton (Places in the Heart). --Doug Thomas

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good For What It Was, I Guess Nov. 14 2003
First, a disclaimer: it's really tough to watch a movie, let alone review it, objectively when you've just finished reading the excellent book upon which it was based. Upon reflection, this was actually probably a pretty good movie, for what it was, and I do agree that Paul Newman deserved his Oscar nomination. It's just that the book was so real, so convincing in its portrayal of its characters, that I couldn't help feeling that the movie was, well, wrong. Though I know the book was a fiction, I couldn't help feeling that the movie was betraying the truth that the book presented. As the scenes in the movie pieced together the highlights, I kept having two thoughts: "wow, this is going by too fast; are we there already?" and "but that's not how it happened!" At any rate, I'd like my review to be something a little more meaningful than just the self-important cliche, "The book was way better." Whether or not I will succeed is up to you. [end disclaimer]
The book was 550 pages long and rich in description, so I don't fault the movie for trimming story lines and collapsing others (e.g., Bruce Willis's character was a composite of at least three distinct characters in the book). In fact, this technique works surprisingly well for much of the movie; the story feels a little flatter, but the meaning is left pretty much intact. And I suppose that the filmmaker can be forgiven for softening up the title character and sentimentalizing him a bit in the very way that I pointed out the book did not. This is a Hollywood movie, after all.
I do find fault, though, with distorting the essential truth. Minor variations hurt the movie a bit throughout, but in one particular instance, near the end, a major breach significantly changes the whole point.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great story and performances Dec 12 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a faithful rendering of the novel, which I also loved. Most of the wonderful characters are brought to life, even though the sub-plots are trimmed to fill the time available. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Made the grade Nov. 14 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Newman is believable as a senior living life on his own terms. Jessica Tandy is excellent also. A must have for Newman fans.
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By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER
This film wouldn't be nearly as successful without the wondrous
understated performance by Newman.

He plays Sully, a small town man who has long since lost his family due
to his drinking, and who never amounted to much in life, but still has
a sharp sense of humor, life, sexuality, and even rage burning in
himself at age 60.

It's also a genial slice of small town life, related to Benton's
'Places in the Heart', but less treacly, and with a less Hollywood
spin. The characters (a terrific supporting cast including Jessica
Tandy, and both Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith doing some of the
best work they've ever done) are off-beat, without it feeling like
writer/director Benton was sweating hard to create 'quirky'.

Nothing all that much happens in the film, yet people grow and change,
just like in real life.

Not quite a great film, but it still captures a sweet, almost Caprasque
Americana, without becoming cloying. The movie, like Newman, never
pushes hard, and that goes a long way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as the book March 27 2004
This movie, like the novel of the same name, shows the life of a flawed but amiable character, Donald Sullivan, over a period of a few days in a small town in Upstate New York. Rarely do I see a movie that is almost as good as the book, but here the only drawback to the movie is that it is too short. (It would probably have to be 8 hours long to tell the entire story.)
Paul Newman is perfect as Sully, Bruce Willis is astounding as a small-town builder, and Rachel Griffiths is heartwarming as Willis' wife. If you like the book, see the movie; if you like the movie, definitely read the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites... Feb. 13 2004
I love this movie...it is one of my all-time favorites for a variety of reasons. It features a wonderful performance by Paul Newman and a great cast of supporting characters, but the real star is the story. It's a very good reminder of the impact we have on the lives of others, even if we mostly focus on our own challenges, dreams, and daily frustrations. But whether the movie makes a poignant impression on you or not, you can still enjoy it as a fun, touching story...
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By A Customer
If you want to see how real people live then just watch this film. This movie is one of my all time favorites. Growing up in central NY, I can tell you that this movie captures the people, their wit, and as I said before, their lives.
There are people who think they are important because they have important jobs. The reality is that the most important thing we can do is to help others and to make a difference, day in, day out, in little ways. That is what Sully does, and he himself doesn't recognize how important he is.
Paul Newman is excellent, as always.
The DVD is missing of bonus materials and since this movie is unlikely to ever get a "Collector's Edition" that is sad. However, the movie itself is bonus enough.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Buy This DVD NOW Dec 6 2003
I won't wax poetic for 1000 words about this movie. If you are looking for a movie that is well directed, well acted, and just makes you laugh and walk away feeling good, get this movie. One of the few movies that I liked as much or more than the book. There, I've said it, so now you go add it to your cart!
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