Pushing TinApril 23, 1999
A feud develops between two air traffic controllers: one cocky and determined while the other is restrained and laidback, which inevitably affects their lives.
Release Year: 1999
Rating: 5.9/10 (17,960 voted)
Critic's Score: 47/100
Stars: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett
Nick and the other boys (and Vicki Lewis) working the hotspot of air traffic control in New York are impressed with themselves, to say the least. They thrive on the no-room-for-error, fast-paced job and let it infect their lives. The undisputed king of pushing tin, "The Zone" Falzone, rules his workplace and his wedded life with the same short-attention span that gets planes where they need to be in the nick of time. That is, until Russell Bell, a new transfer with a reputation for recklessness but a record of pure perfection shatters the tensely-held status quo. The game of one-upmanship between the two flies so high as to lead Nick into Russell's bed with his wife. His sanity slipping just as fast as his hold on #1, Cusack's controller is thrown out-of-control when Thornton's wanderer quietly leaves town. Nick must now find a way to regain his sanity and repair his marriage before he breaks down completely.
Writers: Darcy Frey, Glen Charles
Billy Bob Thornton
A Comedy about Life, Love, Airplanes and Other Bumpy Rides.
Release Date: 23 April 1999
Filming Locations: Etobicoke, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $3,555,032
(25 April 1999)
(4 July 1999)
Did You Know?
Billy Bob Thornton's character (Russell Bell) states in the movie that he is half Irish (his father) and half Choctaw Indian (his mother). In real life, Mr. Thornton's father is of Irish ancestry, while his mother is half Choctaw Indian and half Italian.
At the beginning of the movie, when Ed is believed to "go down the pipes", his scope shows two Continental Airlines flights with the same number (COA1250), supposedly representing two different planes.
[In response to his teacher's request that the class say "metaphor"]
That wasn't a metaphor. That was a simile. "Laying pipe" is a metaphor.
Not that good, not that bad
Pushing Tin is somewhat of an odd movie. It's not really funny enough to be
considered a comedy, and it's not really compelling/dramatic enough to be
considered a good drama. It attempts to pull off both at once, but never
The pacing seems a little "off". You always expect the movie to pick-up at
some point but it never really does. It does manage to move along quick
enough that it keeps you awake (barely), but I always found myself wanting
the story to move someplace / anyplace to keep me more interested than I
The story itself primarily centers around the antics of Nick Falzone (John
Cusack) and Russell Bell (Billy Bob Thornton), both of whom are air traffic
controllers. To it's credit, I've never seen a movie about ATC's, but at
the same time Nick and Russell could have been in any other profession and
the story would have held up. I sometimes think the writer chose ATC's
simply because no one else had done it.
The main conflict centers around Nick's desire to out-do Russell. Why he
feels the need to do this is never adequately explained. It's also somewhat
of a mystery as to what Nick is hoping to accomplish by out-doing Russell.
Most of their competitions are basically irrelevant and don't prove much
anyway: holding onto a match the longest, shooting freethrows, stacking as
many planes into a queue as possible, etc, etc. Their "battle of wits", as
it were, eventually begins to involve their significant others.
Unfortunately the respective wives (Blanchett and Jolie) are seemingly
little better than pawns in Nick and Russell's bizarre and meaningless mind
game. They don't have much depth of character, nor any wants/desires of
their own (beyond the superficial), and, as a result, you don't really care
what happens to them.
So, in short, Pushing Tin isn't that funny (though I seem to remember it
being billed as a comedy) nor is the story engaging enough to be considered
a good drama. As noted in my header, it's not a bad movie, but it isn't
that good either. Worth a rental if you've seen everything
I rate it 5/10.