The story of the film is centered upon a pair of brothers (and was played by real-life brothers Jeff Bridges and Beau Bridges) who have spent decades working as lounge pianists. They go by the name "The Fabulous Baker Boys" and have made a good enough living for themselves with no other jobs for decades. They perform beautiful music with their pianos and are well respected musicians.
Unfortunately, the brothers hit a rocky-road in their careers and the audience stops coming in the same numbers. They decide it's time to take on a singer to join their act and they discover singer Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer), who shakes things up with their careers and the romantic life of Jack Baker (Jeff Bridges). Frank Baker (Beau Bridges) handles the business, Jack is the better pianist, and Susie has a voice of wonder that the audience loves. The Fabulous Baker Boys and their new singing sensation find renewed success. Yet what will happen between Jack and Susie when they are more than work partners?
The film has a sort of melancholic tone to it in that it manages to showcase the way in which the once "fabulous" musical act of the Baker Boys has become outdated to the point of the brothers needing to find a singer to collaborate with. The film brings a nostalgic feeling to the musical performances as well. The filmmaking finds a balance between focusing on the story of the music and of the romance explored between the characters of Jack and Susie.
The costumes designed by Lisa Jensen (Grumpy Old Men, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) were well done and really seem to fit the characters and storyline well. The fancy performance attire was nicely designed and classy. This was a strong costuming effort.
The music scored by Dave Grusin (The Goonies, On Golden Pond) is quite beautiful and it works really well with the filmmaking. The music of the piano performances are good too. Selections of other songs and pieces are also effectively used in the soundtrack to the film.
The cinematography by Michael Ballhaus (Gangs of New York, The Departed) looks beautiful. There is a wonderfully nostalgic filmic quality to the photography. It looks lush without being flashy. The effort by Ballhaus really adds to the emotional wonderment of Kloves filmmaking.
Written and directed by Steve Kloves, The Fabulous Baker Boys manages to craft an effective blend between the dramatic storyline about their musical journey and the romance that brews between Jack Baker and Susie Diamond. Kloves work as a director is strong throughout. It's amazing that this is his debut as a director as the filmmaking feels so assured, confident, and altogether successful.
The performances Kloves brings forth from the cast impresses well. Everyone is at the top of their game. Both the Bridges brothers are perfectly cast. It makes perfect sense to cast actual brothers as the brothers for this type of storyline. They are so effective together because they have that brotherly camaraderie. Pfeiffer is sensational in her role as Susie Diamond and she showcases her talents as both a dramatic and comedic actress.
The Fabulous Baker Boys is an impressive achievement: a technically marvelous film made in such a wonderful style and with great performances. The story told is satisfying. This film is a gem that is well worth discovering. Writer-director Kloves did a fantastic job and the film is a wonderful success on so many levels.
The Fabulous Baker Boys arrives on Blu-ray from Twilight Time with a technically impressive MPEG-4 AVC 1080p encoded HD presentation in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The image looks really nice in high-definition with good colors, naturally filmic grain, and an impressive clarity. The only downside to the presentation is that is can be somewhat soft but it seems to be inherent to the film source. The film seems to look like it should and this release is good at presenting the film in the best possible quality. Twilight Time has done a solid job with this presentation.
The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless sound is generally quite good. Dialogue clarity is good throughout the film. The music sounds pleasant. Clarity is good overall. The sonic fidelity is a little less effective. There isn't a lot of bass and some parts can sound a bit thin. This is not as strong of a sound design or presentation as some Twilight Time releases but it is still an effective presentation overall and one that provides a reasonably satisfying experience. It is nice that the release preserves the original stereo sound design.
English SDH subtitles (for the deaf and hard of hearing) are provided.
This release includes some brand new supplements from Twilight Time. The release contains the following:
Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Steve Kloves and Film Historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman
Audio Commentary with Director of Photography Michael Ballhaus
Isolated Music and Effects Track in DTS-HD Master Audio
Original Theatrical Trailer
The Fabulous Baker Boys is an emotionally resonant film with great performances from brothers Jeff Bridges and Beau Bridges. Michelle Pfeiffer is also excellent as Susie Diamond. With an excellent screenplay and filmmaking, Kloves directorial debut is a fantastic film about music, love, and family. It is well worth seeking out and seeing. The Blu-ray release from Twilight Time has solid PQ/AQ, brand new supplements, and is worth a purchase for fans.