One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest ★★★★★

“Aren’t you ashamed?”
“No I’m not.”

Ahh, come on! You know this is a classic already. I’m here to just continue to shout praises for this movie — one of the three movies in Oscar history to sweep all the major awards (I’m now two for three, with The Silence of the Lambs still being one of the best freakin’ movies I’ve ever watched).

Movies about mental institutions and the people inside them are tricky for me. Without going into heavy detail, I’ve had a stint in one (I was a teenager, and honestly, it was good for me, but I know that’s not everyone’s experience and so I don’t want my experience to be a ‘catch-all’). How Hollywood sort of informs people’s perceptions of mental wards and the people inside sometimes really rubs me the wrong way. I think I’ve avoided this movie so long because I thought it’d rub me the wrong way, too.

BUT...

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is littered with amazing performances. Some of these performances are too good — this movie breaks your heart several times throughout.

Jack Nicholson anchors this movie as McMurphy, the ringleader who corrals the rest of the patients to be on his team against the formidable foe — Nurse Ratched, played superbly by Louise Fletcher.

Must say! Everyone points out how devilish Ratched is (that name is so NOT subtle). I really thought she wasn’t as awful as deemed by many reviewers — and listed as the #5 villain ever in AFI’s list! Perhaps a little too cold, yeah, but... I dunno, maybe it’s just me. It’s not like she was trying to kill her patients…

Miloš Forman’s style and cinéma vérité approach help strengthen this movie’s enduring greatness and esteem. And somehow, he did it all while being on-set enemies with Jack Nicholson! 

What a rockin’ supporting cast, primarily with first-time actors (at the time) as well as some real mental hospital patients. Brad Dourif as Billy Bibbit (who got a Best Supporting Actor nom, ayy!) steals the show a couple times and was a character that I found easy to root for. I’m not gonna profile EVERY side character, but this movie had some awesome ones.

Like, I had no idea that was Danny DeVito as Martini. Wow, talk about a commitment to the performance!

It gets really crazy, and to be honest, you have to suspend a fair amount of disbelief at times. How the hell could some of this stuff happen? That’s probably where fiction-writing & Hollywood play a part, but the themes and life lessons are more important than the “likelihood” of some of the sequences actually happening.

I'm a goddamn marvel of modern science.

EJ liked these reviews

All