Brewster McCloud

1971

Brewster McCloud

Critics Consensus

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84%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 19

83%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,714
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Movie Info

A boy yearns to fly in Robert Altman's whimsical youthquake parable. With the aid of seraphic Louise (Sally Kellerman), owlish Brewster (Bud Cort) constructs a pair of human-size wings in his Houston Astrodome nest to realize his dream. Meanwhile, conservative creeps, including a witchy "Star-Spangled Banner"-belting crone (Margaret Hamilton) and Brewster's skinflint boss (Stacy Keach), keep turning up dead covered with bird droppings; the Houston Establishment calls in blue-eyed, turtleneck-wearing "San Francisco super cop" Frank Shaft (Michael Murphy) to investigate. Brewster cooks his own goose, however, when he defies Louise's edict against sex and hooks up with Astrodome usher Suzanne (Shelley Duvall) after she impresses him (and saves him) by out-driving Shaft in her Road Runner. Despite her apparent sweetness, Suzanne ultimately will not compromise her comfortable home for flight with Brewster.

Cast

Bud Cort
as Brewster McCloud
Michael Murphy
as Det. Lt. Frank Shaft
Stacy Keach
as Abraham Wright
John Schuck
as Policeman Johnson
Margaret Hamilton
as Daphne Heap
Corey John Fischer
as Policeman Hines
G. Wood
as Police Capt. Crandall
Bert Remsen
as Policeman Breen
Angeline Johnson
as Breen's Wife
Bill Baldwin
as Weeks's Aide
David Welch
as Green Jr.
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News & Interviews for Brewster McCloud

Critic Reviews for Brewster McCloud

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for Brewster McCloud

  • Oct 27, 2011
    Altman's most experimental work.
    Graham J Super Reviewer
  • Apr 07, 2011
    1970's Altman drama about a boy building a pair of wings in a fallout shelter. A grown-up fairy tale with a surreal murder story and a wild cast including the lead from HAROLD AND MAUDE and a very odd bird lecturer. Mermerizing and utterly fantastic in every sense of the word.. <img src="http://static.blogcritics.org/10/07/06/138519/Brewster-1.jpg"> Footnote : The film was released after MASH, which might account for its poor box-office as its a very different animal, promoted by a zany action trailer that was definitely made by a blind man with a very large pair of scissors.
    Lesley N Super Reviewer
  • Feb 08, 2010
    i don't get how the studio ever released this. no way could that happen today. and how much of this was improv? was there a script beyond the basic idea of a strange boy who wants to fly in the houston astrodome? anyway it's a chaotic mess that i'm not sure even makes sense but somehow works, a sort of altman trademark. the device of the lecturer helps tie it all together. many hilarious bits and sally kellerman and shelley duvall are adorable here. god bless the 70's and copious amounts of weed.
    Stella D Super Reviewer
  • Dec 30, 2008
    <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793444"><img src="http://content6.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793444_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a></div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793522"><img src="http://content8.flixster.com/photo/12/79/35/12793522_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a></div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793432"><img src="http://content6.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793432_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793434"><img src="http://content8.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793434_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793431"><img src="http://content9.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793431_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793430"><img src="http://content8.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793430_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793436"><img src="http://content6.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793436_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793438"><img src="http://content8.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793438_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793445"><img src="http://content7.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793445_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a></div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793456"><img src="http://content6.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793456_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a><I>Brewster McCloud</I></div></div> <I>BREWSTER MCCLOUD</I> (1970) WRITTEN BY: Doran Canon and Robert Altman (uncredited) DIRECTED BY: Robert Altman FEATURING: Bud Cort, Sally Kellerman, Michael Murhpy, Shelley Duvall, Rene Auberjonois, Stachy Keach, Margaret Hamilton, Jennifer Salt, and William Baldwin GENRE: FANTASY, SATIRE TAGS: WEIRD PLOT: An emotionally moving, thoughtful satire in which an oddball genius constructs a one man flying device in the basement of the Houston Astrodome. He is assisted by a sexy but murderous guardian angel. COMMENTS: Five stars all the way for this gorgeous, pensive work of art. In this strange black comedy, Brewster McCloud (Cort -"Harold" from <I>Harold and Maude</I>) is a likable misfit who lives in the fallout shelter of the old Houston Astrodome. He endeavors to build a mechanical flying suit which will enable his escape from an incomprehensible world to some unknown imaginative utopia. An eccentric angel adeptly played by the quirky Sally Kellerman strangles anyone who opposes Brewster.. <I>Brewster McCloud</I> has a humorously heavy ornithological thesis with a narrative lecture provided by an off kilter science professor. The instructor's recitation of facts about the social and mating habits of birds provides a funny comparative commentary on human nature. Avian themes glue the plot points together and furnish continuity between a sequence of strange events as Brewster struggles to achieve his goal. There are three subplots: a coming of age story centered around McCloud, a social commentary stemming from the exposition of similarities and differences between humans and birds, and a murder investigation. While the police attempt to determine why the strangulation victims are found plastered with bird droppings, Brewster tries to beat the clock and perfect his flying machine before the authorities close in. He must stay focused in spite of two seductive girlfriends. One is a sexually repressed, self pleasuring health food nut. The other is a daffy wannabe race car driver who speeds about in a hotrod that she purloined from a pervert. Throughout, Brewster encounters a broad range of corrupt, maniacal locals and shake down artists whom he evades in foot pursuits and car chases. <I>Brewster McCloud</I> is one of Robert Altman's most imaginatively entertaining and colorful films. In this delightfully oddball production, Altman makes strategic, thoughtful use of magic realism to deliver a sardonically dark satire. In one scene, a detective crashes his muscle car into a pond behind a family posing for a photograph in a public park. His legs crushed, the driver shoots himself in the head, but the subjects posing for the photo never break their stiffly arranged stance for the camera to turn around and look. Such moments are reminiscent of the morbid humor of the segment in <I>Catch-22</I> in which an airman standing on a dock is cut in half by the prop of a fighter plane. Appallingly, the legs and waist of the hapless subject continue to stand in place for a second before flopping over into the water. Altman's reverence for the circus, the oldest form of showmanship and theater features prominently in the production design. Altman casts character actors like Stacy Keach, Shelly Duvall and Margaret Hamilton. Sight gags reference their trademark films. Hamilton, for instance, appears in trademark red slippers from <I>The Wizard of Oz</I>. The dialogue is telling and the segments are funny. In one memorable sequence, Stacy Keach plays an eccentric pistol-packing millionaire. Made up as Shylock from <I>The Merchant of Venice</I> he takes to the busy metro freeways in a suped up wheelchair with disastrous results. Producer Lou Adler brought John Phillips (The Mamas and the Papas) into the project to write supplemental music for the score. Phillip's contribution is breathtakingly beautiful and represents some of his finest work. Altman thoughtfully composed each shot, and every frame looks like an artistic photograph. The film's carefully planned, striking color and design continuity result in a stunning optical footprint. With it's 2.35:1 aspect ratio it provides a visual experience that is nothing short of spectacular. (Shot in 70mm.) <I>Brewster McCloud</I> is a picturesque highlight of 1970's cars, culture, and Houston locations, many of which, like the Astrodome, are now a distant memory. Viewing the film today may be a nostalgic experience for those fans who wish to take one last glimpse at the garishness and good times of that carefree decade of loud fashions, laughable pop cultural values, and larger than life characters and settings. As such <I>Brewster McCloud</I> is a worthwhile, overlooked, if not difficult to obtain treat for the senses. Note: This film was very poorly marketed. The dreadfully misguided trailers are not representative, and have been omitted from this recommendation. <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793458"><img src="http://content8.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793458_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793451"><img src="http://content9.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793451_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a></div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793453"><img src="http://content7.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793453_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793473"><img src="http://content7.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793473_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/12793523"><img src="http://content9.flixster.com/photo/12/79/35/12793523_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793465"><img src="http://content7.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793465_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793449"><img src="http://content7.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793449_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793475"><img src="http://content9.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793475_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a> </div></div> <div style="width:280px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com/photos/brewster-mccloud-12793440"><img src="http://content6.flixster.com/photo/12/79/34/12793440_ori.jpg" border="0"/></a><div style="text-align:center;font-size:10px;"><a href="http://www.flixster.com"></a></div></div>
    Pamela D Super Reviewer

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