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ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980) 
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Post ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
Click here for the review of Ordinary People (1980)

Part of the "1980s" series.


Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:34 pm
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Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
I saw this at school and I thought it was pretty good but I had a couple thoughts when I was watching it:

1. Man, Mary Tyler Moore can be such a bitch.
2. So this is what Kiefer Sutherland will look like 30 years from now.


Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:42 pm
Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
I was teetering on whether or not to see this (after if unforgivably robbed 'Raging Bull' for Best Picture). I think that, if anything, your review killed it. It sounds like you disliked the experience greatly, and on dramas, we're pretty close taste-wise.


Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:57 pm
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Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
Evenflow8112 wrote:
I was teetering on whether or not to see this (after if unforgivably robbed 'Raging Bull' for Best Picture). I think that, if anything, your review killed it. It sounds like you disliked the experience greatly, and on dramas, we're pretty close taste-wise.


It's well made and I can understand where some of the praise came from, but the movie provided zero emotional impact.

My wife, who is a psychologist, likes it considerably more than I do.


Sat Feb 21, 2009 3:54 pm
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Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
James,

I like the review. I too found myself very detached from this film. I remember hearing it had won the Oscar and being very surprised.

One can actually make a case that Ordinary People is the weakest of the five nominated films.
Elephant Man, Coal Miner's Daughter and Tess were also in the mix.
Strangely, Empire Strikes back did not get nominated. It suffered from Dark Knight Syndrome.

Rob


Sat Feb 21, 2009 4:39 pm
Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
I originally bought Ordinary People on DVD several years ago because I like Robert Redford as a director and because I saw that it had won the Best Picture Oscar in 1980 beating the excellent Raging Bull. To say I was disappointed and underwhelmed would be an understatement. It isn't a bad movie by any means, but better than Raging Bull? Better than the Elephant Man? Come on! To me, it lacked any emotional resonance that a movie like it should. Needless to say the DVD was on eBay later that day and no longer sits in my DVD collection!


Sat Feb 21, 2009 7:34 pm
Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
It has probably been too long for me to reasonably comment on this movie. I don't remember being especially impressed by it, but I remember being impressed by Sutherland the most. Most of the rest of the cast seemed too simply drawn, especially Mary Tyler Moore's character.

Now that RH has listed everything it beat, I think it probably was the weakest of the nominated bunch, although I can't speak for Coal Miner's Daughter.


Sat Feb 21, 2009 7:44 pm
Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
I remember seeing this movie in a Reading class in high school. I liked it, but seeing "Raging Bull" years later made me realize how much better that movie was compared to this one.


Sat Feb 21, 2009 8:34 pm
Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
Wierd, my mom works the mental health field, and she likes the movie too. I guess you just have to chalk this one up to the dreaded "personal taste."


Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:50 pm
Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
i started to watch this one not too long ago, but really couldn't get into it. they were all so shut of from their emotions it was dull to watch.


Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:28 pm
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Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
mjl1783 wrote:
Wierd, my mom works the mental health field, and she likes the movie too. I guess you just have to chalk this one up to the dreaded "personal taste."


My wife re-watched this with me last week when I was prepping for the review. She remarked that she still liked it but not as much as when she saw it the first time (which would have been during the '90s). As I wrote in the review, this film has not aged well at all.


Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:37 pm
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Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
James Berardinelli wrote:
mjl1783 wrote:
Wierd, my mom works the mental health field, and she likes the movie too. I guess you just have to chalk this one up to the dreaded "personal taste."


My wife re-watched this with me last week when I was prepping for the review. She remarked that she still liked it but not as much as when she saw it the first time (which would have been during the '90s). As I wrote in the review, this film has not aged well at all.


James

I saw a clip from this film a year ago and it too looked really dated.

To be honest I thought this film was somewhere between 2.5 and 3 stars. It depresses me that Raging Bull lost out.
Rob


Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:46 pm
Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
It's interesting, I once saw a quote from Mel Brooks, who produced "The Elephant Man" (yes that Mel Brooks). He said something to the effect of, "Twenty years from now, "Ordinary People" will be the answer to a trivia question. "The Elephant Man" will be a movie people actually remember."

I think I'd have to agree with him on that one. Nearly everyone I've ever met who's seen "The Elephant Man" remembers it vividly and how they felt after it finished. Can't say the same about "Ordinary People". You usually hear, "Oh yeah, that movie. Wasn't bad."


Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:15 am
Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
I'm not going to comment on whether Ordinary People should have won the Best Picture Oscar, because, really, awards are so subjective and politically motivated that they are hardly indicative of quality. I also don't think it's fair to judge a film in light of whether it should or should not have beaten other films for an award.

Yes, Ordinary People definitely shows its age in several respects (the boating accident flashbacks scream "We're filming this in a water tank!"), but it's still one of my favorite films. I like Redford's step-back approach because I don't feel like he is trying to manipulate me with this material that could easily become very manipulative, but I, personally, do not think it lacks emotional impact. Sure, this film is not a tearjerker, but I do care about these characters and I'm invested in what happens to them both during the film and after the credits roll. I also appreciate this movie because I think there are a dearth of films whose material really respects the teen-aged character at their center and does not try to exploit or trivialize that teenager's experiences. (I am by no means saying that Ordinary People is the best example of these films, but I think it does the job well.) But ultimately, as Mr. Berardinelli elucidates in his review, I think this film is really about acting. I love these actors, and I love them in this film.


Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:08 pm
Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
i like the film then, i still like it now. i was emotionally connected then, i am still emotionally connected now. i will not even compare it with the other great films that year, as i see films on their own merits. i agree that the story has aged, and it now more than an ordinary occurrence. and this may have affected how it is viewed today. but then again, for my taste, and since i look at it as it is, it is far from ordinary.


Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:16 pm
Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
I may be somewhat in the minority here but while I don't think that this movie deserved the Oscar over Raging Bull, I still found it to be a very powerful experience. The scene that I still remember vividly is the one
[Reveal] Spoiler:
where Conrad finds out that Karen just killed herself. His reaction to that and the scene that follows with his doctor were easily the most powerful of the entire film.
I need to hunt this one down on DVD. On a slightly different note (and this is by no means a personal attack), I was pretty shocked by the (relatively) low rating the Mr. Bernardelli gave to this one. I would've thought he'd rate it higher since it eschews a lot of the sentimental manipulation that often drowns movies of this ilk. I personally would've added another half-star to his rating but I see where he's coming from and I respect-even if I don't fully agree with- his opinion.


Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:22 pm
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Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
oafolay wrote:
I was pretty shocked by the (relatively) low rating the Mr. Bernardelli gave to this one. I would've thought he'd rate it higher since it eschews a lot of the sentimental manipulation that often drowns movies of this ilk. I personally would've added another half-star to his rating but I see where he's coming from and I respect-even if I don't fully agree with- his opinion.


You're right when you assert that I dislike over manipulation. However, I felt nothing during Ordinary People, and some kind of emotional reaction would be needed for the movie to truly work.


Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:32 pm
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Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
Watching this movie felt like...eating a reheated pizza. It just felt...bland.


Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:17 pm
Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
Oh man, you guys are killing me. I suppose everyone's mileage is gonna vary when it comes to emotional responses but even though I didn't tear up (which, by the way I rarely ever do during a movie -- only The Passion of the Christ has caused me to do this and that was only on the first viewing where I was sitting in a theater full of others that were crying as well), I was still moved by the plight of Conrad and I was able to feel for him and the emotional load he had to shoulder. I actually saw this movie quite recently and most of my friends told me it would be up my alley (I'm not one for over-the-top manipulation and histrionics either) and it didn't disappoint one bit but again that could well just be me.


Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:35 pm
Post Re: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
oafolay wrote:
Oh man, you guys are killing me. I suppose everyone's mileage is gonna vary when it comes to emotional responses but even though I didn't tear up (which, by the way I rarely ever do during a movie -- only The Passion of the Christ has caused me to do this and that was only on the first viewing where I was sitting in a theater full of others that were crying as well), I was still moved by the plight of Conrad and I was able to feel for him and the emotional load he had to shoulder. I actually saw this movie quite recently and most of my friends told me it would be up my alley (I'm not one for over-the-top manipulation and histrionics either) and it didn't disappoint one bit but again that could well just be me.

I'll admit I felt for him at certain scenes but mostly I was just..no.


Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:45 pm
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