Summer of Nicolas Cage Movie #6: Matchstick Men

2003 crime dramedy

Rating: 16/20

Plot: Frank and Roy (Is there some significance to that name combination? I'm too lazy to look it up.) are partners in con (OK, I did look it up. Roy Allen and Frank Wright made root beer. Allen & Wright Root Beer. A&W. There you go.), the older Roy a mentor to his younger partner. Roy's got some psychological problems, however. He's agoraphobic, has numerous tics, and is obsessive-compulsive, especially with cleanliness. It hasn't gotten in the way of him being a successful con man though. But Roy's life is turned upside-down when he finds out that he has a teenage daughter, a girl who a psychologist has helped him contact.

What a fun movie! And what a great freak-out performance by Shane-movies hero Nicolas Cage. By the way, has anybody else noticed that I have his name spelled wrong in the blog label? I've known about that for a while and could have fixed it, but it would take away time that I have for researching the history of root beer. Cage's performance in this is wild and wonderful though. The panic grunts and yelps, the tics, the way he yells "Pygmies!" whenever he feels that he's losing control, the contortions. And Matchstick Men might have my favorite Nicolas Cage line ever, a line that is delivered in a way that only Nicolas Cage could deliver it. Responding to a guy in a pharmacy who asks him if he's ever heard of lines, Roy replies, "Have you ever been taken to the sidewalk and beaten until you PISSED BLOOD?!" It's something you have to rewind and watch at least twelve times. He has another great Nicolas Cage moment when he freaks out about an ashtray and another when he is picking out a suit to wear. The ubiquitous Sam Rockwell and Alison "I'm not Ellen Page" Lohman are both great. I really like that Sam Rockwell every single time I see him. And amazingly, Lohman pulls off fourteen-year-old when she's only five years younger than me. Hans Zimmer provides a playful score with some Frank Sinatra cuts mixed in. This isn't a typical Ridley Scott movie, but I like a lot of what is going on with the direction and general storytelling. At times, to help the audience get into the mind of the protagonist, you get a Nic Cage cam with some jerky camera movements, animated Sam Rockwells, and close-ups or extended shots of the minutia that his character focuses on. As a character study, it's got some genuinely touching moments, and as a con man drama, it's consistently surprising and a lot of fun.

Oh, and guess what song it uses? If you guessed "Beyond the Freakin' Sea," you are correct.

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