Of Mice and Men (1992)

Directed by Gary Sinise
Written by Horton Foote, based on the novel by John Steinbeck
Starring Gary Sinise, John Malkovich, Ray Walston, Casey Siemaszko, Sherilyn Fenn


Anamorphic: No.

My Advice: Rent It.

George and Lennie (Sinise and Malkovich) travel Calfornia during the Depression, trying to find work...and then trying to keep said work once they find it. Lennie, you see, isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. Like a giant child, he doesn't understand how one conducts oneself in society. As a result, he's prone to misunderstandings involving women he finds pretty and the men with guns who are related to those women. George is the brains of the duo and he's charged with keeping Lennie intact. The two men dream of a place of their own they can go, raise rabbits, and be safe from the outside world that seemingly keeps hounding them. But as the title relates, there's always something. And sooner or later, that something ruins everyone.

There's an inherent danger when attempting a film like this. Steinbeck's story is so well known (at least piecemeal) that the characters of George and Lennie have become archetypes ripe for laughter and parody. And the ending is such a classic that, much like a staging of Romeo & Juliet, you have to work to keep the audience interested in your characters, despite the inescapable and oncoming finale.

Into this potential quagmire steps Sinise with acting and Steppenwolf theatre amigo Malkovich. Sinise is one of the best unsung heroes of acting we've got today. He can pretty much step into any role and nail it and he needs to be working more than he is. Malkovich has a tremendous range, and addresses it on the stage often enough, but really needs to increase his spectrum on the screen. Primarily called on for deep thinking villains, it's when you get stuff like the brilliant Being John Malkovich that he really pulls out the stops. His Lennie is an excellent study in how to look like you're not acting. Even better than the acting is the capable way in which Sinise handles the directorial chores. The key to these stories is to make the ending even more tragic because you know how they end up, and Sinise works that to the film's benefit. I wish we had seen another stint in the chair for Sinise since this film came out, but alas.

Now, to the disc. All we're given here is the obligatory theatrical trailer. This film does have a trailer that's actually pretty good, which is a nice change. But otherwise, that's it. It would have been nice to have had something else: a Sinise commentary would have been stellar, and a Sinise & Malkovich commentary would have been absolutely divine. Or something from Foote would have been nice, as well.

Without any features to commend it, the disc stands pretty firmly on the film alone. To anyone, it's worth at least a rental. Fans of Sinise and Malkovich, fans of the novel, or fans of just excellent acting, should all go ahead and own the thing since this is doubtless the best edition we're going to get.

Buy the book from Amazon!
Buy the DVD from Amazon!
Buy the 1939 version on DVD from Amazon!
Buy the soundtrack from Amazon!

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