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The Bonfire of the Vanities
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Satire on the greed of the 80's. A Wall Street bondsman and his mistress become involved with a scheming journalist when they take a wrong turn one night.Genre: Feature Film-ComedyRating: RRelease Date: 1-JUN-2004Media Type: DVD
Handle with care--this one's a bomb! Director Brian De Palma seemed an unlikely choice to transfer Tom Wolfe's mammoth bestseller-- a vibrantly satiric story about race, politics, and greed in 1980s New York--to the screen. In this case, the first impression was correct. Made with a tin ear to everything that made the book so real, the movie gets it wrong every time, starting with casting Tom Hanks in the central role (which, as anyone with brains knew, should have been played by William Hurt). Move along to the choice of Bruce Willis for the sneaky British tabloid journalist and, well, need I say more? As stylish as any De Palma film, this story of a Wall Street broker whose extramarital shenanigans trigger a racial incident that becomes front-page news gets no help from Michael Cristofer's tone-deaf script. After watching it, read Julie Salomon's behind-the-scenes book about its making, The Devil's Candy, which is much more entertaining. --Marshall Fine
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Top Customer Reviews
This movie is played on the borderline "tragedy and comic" the result, in my opinion, is a very interesting mix of ironic situations. Sherman McCoy (Tom Hanks) is on top of his game and is the top dog in one of the top financial firms in the city. He has money in spades, a socialite wife, a Park Avenue apartment, a mistress and a very nice car. While out with that same mistress Maria (Griffith) in that same expensive car, Sherman takes a wrong turn and ends up in the Bronx where, in a moment of panic at being confronted by crowds of African Americans, Maria suddenly hits a black man and they drive off back to normal white society. Sadly for Sherman, this minor incident escalates when the boy goes into a coma and his car is identified as the one involved, Add to this a DA who desperately needs to win the ethnic vote by prosecuting a rich white person and a journalist who, desperate to get off skid row, talks up the story with a series of sensationalist headlines that twist the truth. As these factors all come into play, Sherman's tidy, rich, world starts to crumble.Read more ›
Melanie Griffith gives an excellent performance as Maria, pushing right up to the edge without becoming a caricature. Kim Cattrall is cool and credible as Hanks' vacuous society wife. Morgan Freeman gave perhaps the strongest performance of the entire film, ruling his courtroom with an iron but equitable fist and delivering some of the best lines in the script, as well.
Perhaps the expectations were just too high for this movie at the time of its release, but I enjoyed it as much as many recent films that have received critical accolades. At first I thought that the pacing was going to be a bit slow, but I was sufficiently involved in the film that the time passed very quickly.
The DVD video transfer is good but not spectacular, and the sound is adequate but nothing special. There are no extras, but that is to be expected on a DVD that is sold in some retail outlets for [less money].
I give the film 3 stars, plus an extra "consolation" star for having been excessively and unfairly criticized.
Most recent customer reviews
I remembered enjoying this movie when it came out on VHS. Was it worth watching again? Yes, it is entertaining but simplistic and the characters are shallow and poorly developed. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Peter
A few people have attempted to exonerate this rather tragic adaptation of Tom Wolfe's classic novel of 1980s New York and have explained their reasons. Read morePublished on Dec 12 2007 by Sam Findlay
I picked up this movie for only $1 at a local rummage sale without knowing anything about it. I have since watched my VHS copy so many times that it finally stopped playing. Read morePublished on April 16 2004 by R. Cecil
This is a good movie! Forget about the miscasting quibbles about Tom Hanks. He does an amiable job with Sherman McCoy. Read morePublished on April 13 2004 by the masked reviewer
This was, without a doubt, the worst movie I ever suffered all the way through in a movie theater (I walked out on Jodie Foster's "Hotel New Hampshire"). Read morePublished on April 26 2003 by David W. Coleman
Great movie: it is funny and tragic at the same time. All of the bad reviews stem from one fact only, and that is, the brutal, unvarnished portrayal of liberal race politics. Read morePublished on March 18 2003 by unraveler
Make no mistake. If you are thinking about buying this movie, do not think, just buy. It is laughs from start to finish. Read morePublished on Jan. 12 2003 by james j sitterly
It just doesn't work as a film, and it doesn't work as the adaptation of the book. As a film it lacks characterisation - the director doesn't do the work establishing the... Read morePublished on Oct. 28 2002 by Matthew Bain
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