Thankfully we are past the garbage book that is The Choice and get to jump right onto our Chain Reaction. Last time we watched Cheaper by the Dozen 2 starring Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, and Eugene Levy. Oddly enough very few of the cast actually appeared in a film based on a book (or at least not one that worked for Chain Reaction for the rest of the year). Fortunately there was one gem amongst the stones. It is Random Hearts starring Harrison Ford and featuring Bonnie Hunt in a supporting role! It’s based on the Warren Adler novel of the same name, which I’ve already read. All I will say is that the book is super duper weird, so hopefully the film is a loose adaptation. Otherwise we are in for a bumpy ride. Let’s go!
Random Hearts (1999) – BMeTric: 47.2
(Pretty typical stuff. Regresses to the mean as the number of votes increases. That vote total (~16K at the moment) seems … low for some reason. But maybe it has to do with this being kind of a forgotten movie of the time. And it just cannot quite break through that 50 BMeT barrier. Sad stuff all around for poor Random Hearts)
Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars – Sub-par political movie, sub-par D.C. cop movie and sub-par romance get bludgeoned into one in this critical/commercial flop about a police sergeant and congresswoman who discover that their mates – recently killed in the same airliner crash – were having an affair. Gloomy, lugubrious, heavily altered adaptation of Warren Adler’s novel suffers from one of the rare constipated Ford performances. Every once in a while it wakes up long enough to remember it’s an Internal Affairs movie and that a few heads have to be bashed.
(What the hell Leonard. First, how many times does Leonard just give a movie a tepid 2 star review, but somehow this gets one and a half! Second, constipated? Really Leonard? Third, too bad I haven’t gotten that far back in the archive, but lugubrious has quite the history with Leonard. In the review for Evening he notes that it is a “lugubrious translation of Susan Minot’s time-skipping novel…”. I also seems like a synonym for gloomy, making its use here all the more confounding. I will not become lugubrious Leonard, I promise you that!)
Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zGdCzEzzPg
(Alright, I’m into it. I’m ready to go. Watching that trailer I was thinking “oh, that looks interesting”. So it makes me more and more curious how it could have gone wrong. Just old-fashioned? Boring? I need to know!)
Directors – Sydney Pollack – (Known For: The Firm; Sabrina; Three Days of the Condor; Tootsie; Out of Africa; The Way We Were; The Interpreter; Jeremiah Johnson; They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?; This Property Is Condemned; The Electric Horseman; The Swimmer; Absence of Malice; BMT: Random Hearts; Havana; Bobby Deerfield; Notes: Look at that filmography. Died in 2008 from cancer. Often appears in cameos in the films he driects (including Random Hearts). Was an accomplished Jazz Pianist.)
Writers – Warren Adler (novel) – (Known For: The War of the Roses; BMT: Random Hearts; Notes: Currently in the process of making a sequel to War of the Roses (jeez Louise) and adapting another one of his novels Funny Boys at the ripe age of 88. Famous for his novel War of the Roses, but also was an accomplished crime writer as well.)
Darryl Ponicsan (adaptation) – (Known For: Taps; The Last Detail; School Ties; Vision Quest; The Boost; BMT: Random Hearts; Nuts; Notes: An author himself, The Last Detail is an adaptation of his own novel of the same name. An accomplished screenwriter as well. Appears to also be a fairly accomplished artist as well.)
Kurt Luedtke (screenplay) – (Known For: Out of Africa; Absence of Malice; BMT: Random Hearts; Notes: Former reporter and editor of the Detroit Free Press. All three of his screenplays were directed by Pollack. Even wrote a script for Bridges of Madison County when Pollack was attached to direct, but was rejected by Warner Bros.)
Actors – Harrison Ford – (Known For: Star Wars: The Force Awakens; The Age of Adaline; Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope; Apocalypse Now; Raiders of the Lost Ark; Blade Runner; Air Force One; Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi; Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues; Ender’s Game; Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; The Fugitive; Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; Working Girl; American Graffiti; Patriot Games; Cowboys & Aliens; Clear and Present Danger; The Conversation; Sabrina; What Lies Beneath; Witness; 42; Morning Glory; K-19: The Widowmaker; BMT: Hollywood Homicide (BMT); Random Hearts; Six Days Seven Nights; Paranoia (Seen it); Firewall (BMT); The Expendables 3 (BMT); More American Graffiti; The Devil’s Own; Extraordinary Measures; Notes: We do love our Harrison Ford BMT flicks. What more is there to say about him? He’s great. Astonishing, all things considered, that he’s avoided a Razzie Nomination. I would have though Paranoia at least would have gotten him one)
Kristin Scott Thomas – (Known For: The Other Boleyn Girl; Only God Forgives; Mission: Impossible; The English Patient; The Golden Compass; Suite Française; Four Weddings and a Funeral; Gosford Park; The Horse Whisperer; Salmon Fishing in the Yemen; The Invisible Woman; Tell No One; Bitter Moon; Life as a House; BMT: Random Hearts; Bel Ami; Confessions of a Shopaholic; Under the Cherry Moon; Notes: Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1987 for Worst Supporting Actress for Under the Cherry Moon; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1987 for Worst New Star for Under the Cherry Moon; Has lived in Paris since she was 19 and typically dubs herself for French releases of her films. Accomplished stage actor, and future BMT mega-star in Under the Cherry Moon, released almost exactly 30 years ago: July 2, 1986)
Also stars Charles S. Dutton – (Will see him in future BMT Legion)
Budget/Gross – $64 million / Domestic: $31,502,583 (Worldwide: $74,608,570)
(failure, but borderline I suppose. It definitely lost money, but less that I would have thought. But look at that budget. Woof. $65 million for a romantic drama based off of a book that cannot possibly be as well known as they thought it was. Not a good look.)
#58 for the Romantic Drama genre
(Two in a row! The Choice was #76 and obviously was this year during the new age of rom drams. Random Hearts came right befor the fall. You can see it sitting in a nice box office trough too after the pre-2000s heyday too. Then it all came a tumbling down. Just so strange. Maybe, and this is pure speculation, prior to 2000 the idea was big star leads in the rom drams (like Ford). And then the bottom just fell out of the genre. And then in 2008 or so they realized they could just get actors from the CW to be in micro-budget borderline-VOD rom drams and print money. And then The Choice was made. The End. I like that theory, but there is no basis in reality for it).
Rotten Tomatoes – 15% (13/87): Even Harrison Ford could not save the dull plot and the slow pacing of the movie.
(You can tell this consensus was written way after the release of the film. Would clearly say “Even Harrison Ford can’t save the dull plot…” nowadays. Also just vague enough to make me think whoever wrote it had never seen the film and probably had no idea what it was about.)
Poster – Random Sklogs (C-)
(I like the color theme personally, something about the subtle blue in the black in white works for me when you are dealing with a poster that is mostly a face. And that is it. I hate the weird fade to the right and resulting asymmetry. And it is boring.)
Tagline(s) – In a perfect world…they never would have met. (B+)
(I like how it is short and sweet. I like the little plot detail. I like that it seems like a clever twist on an idea: the star-crossed lovers. That in a perfect world you find each other and live happily ever after. Twisted into the opposite, that all of this depended on a catastrophe to happen. But given the poster and the tagline and the title, how am I supposed to know anything about this film? It would be totally impenetrable to me I think)
Keyword(s) – plane crash; Top Ten by BMeTric: 78.8 Skyline (2010); 63.5 The Darkest Hour (2011); 60.0 Stealth (2005); 57.5 Congo (1995); 53.7 Batman Forever (1995); 49.1 Red Dawn (2012); 47.2 Random Hearts (1999); 46.2 Green Lantern (2011); 41.3 Whiteout (2009); 40.4 King Solomon’s Mines (1985);
(Da-da-da-da-da I’m loving this list. Makes me want to watch Whiteout and whatever King Solomon’s Mines is. Would be a great “completed” accomplishment … by certain people’s definitions of “great”)
Notes – The neon in the “Parkway Lanes” sign had not worked for over 20 years. It was repaired by the production company. At night, the lit sign may be seen from the northbound lanes of the Garden State Parkway. (nice)
Based on the novel by Warren Adler, the film rights were obtained soon after the novel’s release in 1984. However the film then languished in “development hell” for 15 years. In the 1980s, Dustin Hoffman was attached to star in the film but later withdrew as he did not like the earlier drafts of the script. By the 1990s, Kevin Costner was attached to star and James L. Brooks was attached to direct it, though this never came to fruition either. Eventually, Harrison Ford and Sydney Pollack showed interest in the project and it finally went into production. (A troubled production usually spells a great film in the end, right?)
The 1984 novel by Warren Adler that the film is adapted from was based on the January 1982 “Air Florida” plane crash into the Potomac River, flying out of National Airport, Washington, D.C. (An adaptation of a book that is based on real events. Noice)
This is the only film in which Harrison Ford plays a character who wears an earring, as the actor does in real life. (Not a great look Harry, in my opinion, but who am I to talk shit about Harrison Ford, do you dude)
The simulated plane crash that starts the film was so realistic that 40 people called 911, convinced that it was a real disaster.