February 27th, 2009

FROST/NIXON (2008) ***

OK, so nobody would go and see Street Fighter:  The Legend of Chun-Li with me tonight so I swallowed my pride and went with the wife to see Frost/Nixon; Ron Howard’s Oscar bait flick about David Frost (Michael Sheen) interviewing Richard Nixon (Skeletor).  Although I had visions all day long of Chun-Li karate kicking M. Bison, I still got a lot out of this film because it’s more or less a Rocky movie; except that in Frost/Nixon, the combatants use words instead of uppercuts.  This sufficiently sated my bloodlust for cheesy action movies based on 15 year old video games.  For now.


Basically what goes down is Frost is this down-and-out British talk show host that no one takes seriously because he interviewed Zsa Zsa Gabor one too many times.  While he’s down in Australia doing a second rate TV show, Tricky Dick Nixon resigns the presidency of the United States due to that Watergate tomfoolery.  Frost then doggedly pursues Nixon and tries to go mano y mano with the Champ (make that moutho y moutho) on television.  Nixon agrees to the fight, err… interview because A) He sizes up Frost and thinks he’ll only ask softball questions, and B) Frost writes him a REALLY big check.  After the first 700 hours of interviews, nobody thinks that Frost has what it takes to go the distance with Nixon, but the smug little British bastard is just saving the best stuff for last and delivers a TKO when he gets El Presidente to admit he kinda fucked up with those Watergate shenanigans.


Like I was saying, Opie directed this picture and he did a solid job.  Every touch he brought to the film made it more and more like a Rocky flick.  The commercial breaks when Frost’s team would come over massage his shoulders and give him a pep talk is just like the shit that Mickey would do for Rocky in between rounds.  Hell, even the scenes where Frost’s team did research was structured like a training montage.


The performances were mostly great.  Michael Sheen (Real Name:  Michael Estevez) did a superb job as Frost and made his character a quality underdog you could root for.  Kevin Bacon (also in Apollo 13, another Opie history lesson) was equally stellar as Nixon’s cornerman; a loyal pitbull of a dude who would stay all quiet and shit most of the time but if someone got up in his master’s business, he sure as Hell could bark.  I also highly enjoyed Sam Rockwell’s performance as the Anti-Nixon researcher too.  Skeletor on the other hand, I was less impressed with.  His eyes were just too puppy-dogged to really convey the brooding nature of Tricky Dick. 


I did however like the way that Nixon became friends with Frost in the end, just like Rocky and Apollo Creed in Rocky 3. 


I dug Frost/Nixon, but I can’t say it was really Opie’s best work.  (I still say his best flick is Ransom; that’s just me though.)  The film always held my attention, yet it wasn’t quite as compelling as say, Rocky 2.  Yeah, I know what you’re saying, “Well, Mitch what do you expect from a movie that’s ¾ of the way full of people sitting in chairs and talking?”  This may be true.  I submit to you though that filming people sitting around in chairs and talking isn’t the most cinematic of activities.  It takes a lot of dedication to make that shit work.  It’s for that reason that I’m going to declare Frost/Nixon the best People-Sitting-in-Chairs-and-Talking Movie of 2008. 

PS:  By watching this movie, I’ve effectively ended my 9 year boycott of Opie flicks since vowing to never watch another Opie movie again after he ass-raped The Grinch.