Bringing Out the Dead (1999): A Family Affair of a New Breed [Joey’s Review]
BRINGING OUT THE DEAD is an awesome movie with plenty of angles to discuss. We could talk about how it pairs Cage with one of the greatest living directors, Martin Scorsese. We could talk about how it’s the second Cage film in a row that shows the dark elements of humanity (albeit in a more enjoyable lens than 8MM did). We could talk about how it re-unites Cage with two of his former #CageClub co-stars (John Goodman and Ving Rhames) as paramedic teams.
Or, we could talk about how Nicolas Cage was married to his on-screen counterpart, Patricia Arquette, when this was filmed. Let’s do that.
It’s happened a bunch of times in the history of Hollywood. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in EYES WIDE SHUT. Brad Pitt and Angie weren’t dating when they filmed MR. AND MRS. SMITH, but it was the film that kickstarted their relationship. (Apparently, Pitt was also dating Gwyneth Paltrow when they filmed SE7EN?) Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone were together when they filmed THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. There are many, many examples over at POPSUGAR. It’s not a common occurrence, but it’s also not super rare.
While it may not be the first time it’s happened in Hollywood, it’s the first time it’s happened at #CageClub. We talk a lot about Patricia Arquette’s performance on the podcast, so I won’t go into it too deeply here. As a disclaimer, her role of Alabama Worley in TRUE ROMANCE is my #1 all-time movie crush, so I’m content to give her a pass for any sub-par performance she may give. That’s not to say that’s what she does here, though; she’s not necessarily the best actress Cage has worked with (I’m still looking at you, Elisabeth Shue), but she’s pretty solid in this role and, as Mike points out, better served by starring opposite her husband.
Cage would never work with Arquette again, and the two would divorce two years after Bringing Out the Dead hit theaters. Cage has been married twice since, and while Lisa Marie Presley never acted in anything, Alice Kim (Cage’s current wife) has been featured in small roles in two other #CageClub movies: GRINDHOUSE and NEXT. But neither of those roles were very meaty, and it seems like Alice Kim is not really an actress; those are the only two credits to her name. That makes Bringing Out the Dead stand out from the pack even further, as it’s the first (and likely the last) time Cage will star across from an actress he’s romantically involved with.
It’s sort of a shame, then, that the two don’t really have much to work with in terms of a relationship. Arquette’s character is basically only in the movie to help Cage along on his journey, and is never really given anything to do. She’s more motherly than romantic, and the two never come close to compromising one another. That makes it extra unique in terms of #CageClub — not only is this a movie where he doesn’t compromise someone, but this movie is almost the one most entitled to feature a compromising situation! I’m not saying that every time a real-life couple is paired up on screen, the two need to be in a relationship… but if they have chemistry in real-life, aren’t you sort of doing your movie a disservice by not translating that into an on-screen relationship?
Bringing Out the Dead is a movie that’s worth watching for a whole bunch of reasons. If/when you do, make sure to pay extra attention to the dynamic between Cage and Arquette. It’s good, but not great — and that’s sort of disappointing for #CageClub. The rest of the movie, though? Great!
How can I watch it? It’s not streaming for free on Netflix or Amazon, so you’ll have to pay for this one. You can pay like $3 on Amazon or get a DVD for $5. Either way you go, watch it!
What’s up next? We’re entering a new millennium with GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS. In a world dominated by movies from the Fast and Furious franchise, can this hold up?