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Movie Review

Pushing Tin

MPAA Rating: R for language and a scene of sexuality.

Reviewed by: Todd Adams
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Comedy
Length:
123 min.
Year of Release:
1999
R

Starring: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie, Jake Weber, Kurt Fuller, Vicki Lewis, Matt Ross, Jerry Grayson, Michael Willis, Philip Akin, Mike O'Malley, Neil Crone, Matt Gordon, Joe Pingue / Director: Mike Newell

“Pushing Tin” is an involving relational drama set against the backdrop of the world of air traffic controlling.

Viewers looking for action will probably not rate “Pushing Tin” as highly as I have. And viewers strictly screening out offensive material will likely be quite offended by this film. “Pushing Tin” has a story surrounded by high job and family stress, a rowdy work environment, and reliance on drinking and infidelity. In my opinion, the message “Pushing Tin” conveys through all of this material is both moral and worthwhile.

I expected “Pushing Tin” to be only of interest for people like myself who have an interest in the world of air travel. Instead, I was pleased to discover an original and intense relational drama. Two air traffic controllers (John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton) go head to head in both their work and personal lives. If you buy into this character conflict, “Pushing Tin” should keep you alert and in suspense to its end. The air traffic backdrop is an original stage for a story in which the interactions between the main characters and their wives become quite complex indeed.

I think all of the acting in “Pushing Tin” is well done. John Cusack’s highly competitive, upfront and verbal character contrasts interestingly with his under spoken and mysterious rival in Billy Bob Thornton. Though the story itself is not to be taken seriously, the actors realistically carry out a personal struggle based on some heavy life issues.

“Pushing Tin” presents sin and its consequences without any glorification. The grim stressful world of hidden sin is delivered very well through Cusack’s character, and honesty is revealed as the only path—even if painful—to healing. If Christians were perfect and lived in a perfect world, we’d have no use for a movie like this. And be aware that some foul language, sexually related comments and topics, and one scene of partial nudity all mandate a mature audience for this film. It is rare for Hollywood to show immoral issues for the life-damaging sin they are, and especially to present characters who are struggling their way through them. Even the concept of salvation is presented in this movie, though the main character resists it. Overall, “Pushing Tin” presents a world quite similar to the real fallen world we live in, and left me with a definite sense of being warned about the consequences of immorality.

In summary, I found this rather slow moving film to be original and intense. I recommend this movie for mature viewers only. The topics “Pushing Tin” encounters are unfortunately all too true to life, with stinging consequences and no safe place to hide. With all that said, “Pushing Tin” should appeal to both women and men: this is a romance based drama set amongst the testosterone of male egos. And if you like the world of air travel, the air traffic controller backdrop is an added bonus.

Viewer Comments
I have been an air traffic controller for 17 years, so I was anxious to see this movie. I was AMAZED at how true to the job it was! I laughed heartily for the first hour! The controllers were based on real people at New York Tracon, and I can tell you there are a lot of similarities where I work as well. Especially “Doctor Freeze,” the controller who had a “deal” and now cannot find it within himself to even open the front door to the facility! And his coworkers are taking bets on how far he will get “this time.”

Wonderfully played out and you don’t know just how true. In my job there are lots of egos, but none that would make you drive from New York to Arizona to have it out with another controller. This is when the movie turned “Hollywood” and started to lull, and never woke up again. But this was also the point where Thornton’s charachter actually spoke about salvation and expressed very poignantly his wanting to get back to his spiritual foundation. Thorton and Cusak are superb in this, but it is for adults only. I enjoyed this and wasn’t expecting it to be so FUNNY!
—Donna, age 37
Definitely an enjoyable film. I have been impressed specifically with Billy Bob Thornton. It seems that many of his films have a moral edge to them—A Simple Plan, Sling Blade, and this film. He chooses to react in a way that pleases the Lord when he learns of something that could potentially tear apart his marriage. Instead of blowing up, he explains to Cusack’s character that “it’s a born again thing”—indicating to me that his character is a Christian. The film potrayed him in a highly positive light. The air traffic control backdrop was fascinating, and after viewing this film I realize I may never fly the same way again.
—T.C., age 25