VIDEO: Magnolia (1999)

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Cheapus takes you character by character through Magnolia, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s lengthy opus about 24 hours in the lives of interconnected people living in the San Fernando Valley, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Jason Robards, and Tom Cruise in an Oscar-nominated role. 

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  • Iffysarah

    Hello Liam!

    I really enjoyed this review.  I haven’t seen Magnolia, though I’ve long been aware of it, so this was as much of an introduction as any for me.  I remember when it came out, but the Tom Cruise/T.J. Mackey character was put so front-and-center that it single-handedly put me off the idea of seeing it (the fact that it was from the director of Boogie Nights, another film whose subject matter put me off so much, didn’t help).  I like the straight-forward style you took to this review, as I tend to prefer more honest, analytical reviews in general over the goofy, jokey, “let’s take the piss out of this” style, which has its merits, but tends to mock the movie’s elements instead of seriously engaging it and looking at its good parts as well.  I don’t think reviewers should feel they need to put jokes first and analysis later; even if the video uses the style of a review to set up jokes, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t still feel like one.  I prefer serious discussions of a movie’s merits and shortcomings, so long as it doesn’t spoil the experience of actually watching it (which I think you did successfully here).  For the first time in over ten years, I really want to see this movie now, mostly because of how you set up William H. Macy and John C. Reilly’s characters (adding the personal touch of how you identified with them helps a lot in understanding where you’re coming from).  I’d like to see more, and I guess I’d have to rent the movie to get that chance, wouldn’t I?

    Please keep up with this style, assuming you like it as much as I do.  I’ve seen all of your vids so far (except for Serenity, which I’ve avoided as I’m a huge Firefly fan and I can’t bring myself to watch it and thus close the book for good), and I think this is the best of the bunch.  Cheap laughs are easy to find; serious (and may I say, professional-level) reviews are much appreciated.

    Bigger fan than ever,


    • FullofQuestions1

      I think it depends somewhat on the reviewer and somewhat on the material. A lot of people I watch tend to try to even out the jokes and analysis, but sometimes a piece of work will be either hard to analyze or hard to make jokes about (case in point, a review I just finished lends itself to almost no analysis due to how superficial everything about it is).

      I do however love reviews with an analytical edge; it’s extremely interesting to hear various opinions or points that you may not have thought of yourself- even though I do enjoy humor as well. This was well done, Liam, even I haven’t seen Magnolia either.

      • Liam Barrett

        Thank you very much, guys. This review was actually the one that most inspired my current style- I really like to try and strike a balance between comedy and genuine analysis. All my reviews I’ve done since this one have tried to be like this (even King Ralph, which wasn’t easy, believe me). 

        • The_Stig

          Believe me, as someone who’s sick to death of so-called Angry Reviewers (too many do it, but too few do it well) this style suits you. Not loud and obnoxious, doesn’t feel like this is some ‘character’ you’re trying to get over, balancing jokes and actual critique. Negative when it needs to be, but never over the top caustic like something Doug Walker or Noah Antwiler would do to the point where you actually start making up stuff to criticize (as they tend to do). Also, it has a very intimate feel which I like and the bit where you take the movie out of the drawer as you’re introducing it, then place it on the shelf with previously-reviewed titles at the end is a very nice subtle touch as well.

          And I love the kitschy Clockwork Orange-style wallpaper. I’ve made jokes about it, but it’s all in fun. 

          Well done, mate.

  • The_Stig

    I prefer Wes Anderson to Paul Thomas (although you can’t go wrong with either and they’re both a damn sight better than Paul W.S.)

    If Punch Drunk Love is considered your weakest film, you’re in a pretty awesome place. Until Apatow made Funny People it was the last good Adam Sandler movie. And OMG how awesome is Phillip Seymour Hoffman? I’m with you on him 100 percent. If he’s in the cast of any movie, I’m like HERE, TAKE ALL MY MONEY!

    As for Tom Cruise? I have a bizarre kind of relationship with my fandom for him. I know he’s crazier than an outhouse rat, but dammit I love his movies!

    • Liam Barrett

      I have a few friends who downright HATE Cruise, and I have to bite my tongue from rattling off a long list of great films he’s been awesome in. This one always tops the list.

      • FullofQuestions1

        Well, do they hate him as an actor or because of the Scientology business?
        I’m usually able to enjoy a person’s movies even if they’re not the best of people (not that I should judge them as I don’t know them). Case in point, I love Seinfeld and find Kramer to be a funny character; I’ve just lost a lot of respect for Michael Richard as a person.

        • Liam Barrett

          Kind of a bit of both. He’s just one of those guys that really rubs some people the wrong way.

      • The_Stig

        It’s weird. On one hand I feel there’s nothing wrong with him that a good bludgeoning with a shovel couldn’t fix. But on the other hand, on film he’s glorious.

  • wilkenloh

    This is a very good analysis of a favorite film of mine. I almost didn’t watch the video, because I was afraid that it would be just another “Mock-this-thing-to-death”-review or even worse a “Just-recap-what’s-allready-on-the-screen”-summary for dummys. But you helped me to appreciate this film even more than I allready did so consider this a job well done.

    Having said this, you should at least have mentioned the brilliant prologue-scene.

    • Liam Barrett

      I wanted to, but I have this thing where I genuinely don’t like revealing EVERYTHING that happens in a film. I like to leave a few things to surprise people, and both the prologue AND epilogue are things I’d like people to discover on their own. I couldn’t resist using part of it in my opening credits, though.

  • John Sco

    I really enjoyed this one. I’ve felt this movie was a masterpiece since
    the very first time I saw it, ten years ago as you did, and yet I
    couldn’t quite put my finger on why. You do a fantastic job of expanding
    it all. It takes a special kind of story telling to keep the audience
    watching for over 3 hours, and yet Magnolia held me captive the entire
    time, as did this review. I think it really is because of the cast and
    characters like you said, and I enjoyed the way that you explained the ending concisely without dwelling on what some might consider absurdity.

    I’m a little floored by this review to be honest. It was fantastic. I
    don’t see a lot of reviewers willing to touch on such deeply emotional

    • Liam Barrett

      Thank you very much sir. Also, welcome aboard.

  • Dennis Fischer

    Hey Liam, nice review of a terrific movie.  Just to clue you in as a non-Angeleno, but Magnolia is actually named after the street of Magnolia Boulevard, which runs parallel to Hollywood Blvd. Apart from the family connection, the characters in the film are also connected by the game show (Earl Partridge having been its producer).  The character of TJ Mackie is also loosely based on one-time talk radio Tom Leykis, who advised young men how to get more tail than a toilet seat.

    • Liam Barrett

      Yeah, I decided to leave a lot of that out to let the viewer find out for themselves. I have this thing where I don’t like to talk about EVERYTHING that’s in the movie, otherwise what’s the point in watching it?

      Also thank you for the compliment.