Griffin Mill, Tim Robbins, is a studio executive who listens to 50,000 pitches for movies a year, and maybe green lights 12 of them. He is known as a writer’s executive mainly because, even though he turns most of them down, he doesn’t piss them off in the process.
Well, except one.
He’s getting postcards. They have Golden Age actors on the photo side and threatening words on the other side. There are no clues to who the person is or even what they want. If I were to get one or two threatening postcards, it would worry me, but once I got the third one, I’d be starting to think this was something I needed to take seriously. Griffin feels the same way. Normally, he would take this problem to the studio head of security Walter Stuckel, Fred Ward, but the fact that the studio is shopping around for other executives, in particular a new hotshot named Larry Levy, Peter Gallagher, leaves Griffin feeling too vulnerable to bring any potential negative attention on himself.
He’s seen a lot of detective films, right? So why not do a little snooping on his own to see if he can figure out who exactly he pissed off. He determines it would take a few months for a writer to get really angry over not being called back or being rejected. He pulls the files and looks through the potential candidates and decides that David Kahane, Vincent D’Onofrio, fits the profile. Of course, who can forget D’Onofrio just a few years later starring as The Bug in Men in Black? He was fabulous.
Griffin goes out to Pasadena to David’s house. He ends up talking to David’s girlfriend June Gudmundsdottir, Greta Scacchi, on the phone as he watches her through the window work on her artwork. I’ve always thought that Greta has such a nice face; even as she has aged, she has always looked so kind and approachable. June sends Griffin to a movie house playing The Bicycle Thief. After several miscues with the wrong guys, Griffin finally finds David. They go to a Japanese restaurant to have a few drinks. Griffin tells David that he will get his movie deal just quit sending the postcards.
Griffin Mill: Just... stop with the postcards...
David Kahane: [enraged] I don't WRITE POSTCARDS! I WRITE SCRIPTS!
Griffin soon discovers that he killed the wrong man via a fax from his tormenter, just as Walter Stuckel is informing him that the Pasadena police want to talk to him. The lead detective played by Whoopi Goldberg is hilarious. Lyle Lovett plays the detective who starts following Griffin around. Lovett is not a handsome man, and in a world that emphasises attractive features, he sticks out like a sore thumb. His appearance and his odd behavior increase Griffin’s agitation.
At David’s funeral, Griffin meets June again and takes her home. She is such an odd person, so different from the greedy, self-serving people he is used to interacting with in Hollywood.
June: I don't go to movies.
Griffin Mill: Why not?
June: Life is too short.
Of course, a relationship with the deceased's girlfriend gives him a motive, and the pressure increases on Griffin as the police try to tie him to the murder. The cat and mouse game with the postcard writer escalates. Griffin is telling too many lies to everyone from June, to the police, to his boss, to himself. It is as if the postcard writer is the only one who really knows the truth.
There are over sixty celebrity cameos in the movie from Angelica Huston, John Cusack, Jeff Goldblum to Burt Reynolds. This film was released in 1992, and it is certainly one of my favorite movies from the 1990s and even of all time. The satirical, clever script with nimble, amusing dialogue is a pleasure to experience every time I watch this film. The facial expressions of Tim Robbins add further elements to the movie. You can actually see the wheels and gears of his mind working as he puzzles over what he needs to do next to keep one step ahead of the gnarled, jumbled mess of his own deceptions. “Griffin, you move in mysterious ways, but I like it! I like it!”
The ending is perfect. This film is one of those go to movies whenever I need to relax, laugh, and root for a man who despite his many failings I can’t help liking.