A Beautiful Mind

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By Mark Ramsey | 2001/12/22

I can have only one favorite movie of the year, and this year that movie is A Beautiful Mind.

Russell Crowe stars as wacky math prof John Nash. The real Nash won a Nobel Prize for his theory of non-cooperative games, which I think means we have him to blame for Elimi-Date.

abeautifulmind_numbers.jpgIf this movie tells it true, Nash also deserved an honorable mention for his keen ability to use mathematical principles to pick up chicks in college. Yeah, Enrique Iglesias can sing, but can he bait babes with differential calculus? The polynomial unsophistication of Enrique’s lyrics suggests not.

As a young mathematician Russell is obsessed with innovation, searching for a “truly original idea” – so much for that consultation with Bunim/Murray, producers of The Real World 10, Road Rules 10, and Making the Band 3.

Finally Russell comes up with a principle of dynamics which flies in the face of 150 years of Economic theory. That principle later came to be called “Carrot Top’s career.”

Russell does all his best figuring with a grease pencil on the Princeton library window. Note to hoodlums: The difference between genius and vandalism is one rumpled cardigan.

You know there’s a hefty dose of fiction in this story when you see Princeton boys playing pool and flirting with the townie girls. Pool? Girls? This is Princeton, man! The only game is Dungeons and Dragons and they don’t play, they role-play. As for girls, studies show when given a choice between Ivy League halfling sorcerers, half-orc paladins, dwarf barbarians, and gnome monks, girls consistently prefer athletes and guys in uniform.

Years later, Russell is teaching when he meets student hottie Jennifer Connelly. Russell’s the one with the beautiful mind, and Jennifer has the beautiful everything else.

Against all odds, one thing leads to another, and the super-hot, sexy student falls for the quirky, corduroy-jacketed, soon-to-be schizophrenic professor.

Life, as they say, ain’t fair.

In the midst of this wooing, Jennifer and Russell gaze skyward as Jennifer admits to counting stars – 4.300 to be exact! And those are just the ones twirling around Pam Anderson’s head.

abeautifulmind_ed.jpgRussell is being followed by Ed Harris from the Department of Defense, who calls on him to crack some secret Commie code and save Democracy as we know it. Russell decodes some alphabet soup on the wall – it’s like highly classified Wheel of Fortune. Then, the Feds need to inject an LED into Russell’s arm as a security measure and a convenient means of power-testing a drawer full of old batteries.

But the Reds are onto them! Russell realizes his life is in danger, but if he quits, he’s in even more danger. Unless, of course, Russell is schizo!

Hmm. Either Russell’s a government spy or he’s lost his grip on reality. Which is it? “You could ask my friends at the Department of Defense,” says Russell, “but they’re usually out of the office on their Unicorns doing Government business.”

Yes, Russell is nuts. He hoards newspapers, psychotically decoding Ann Landers, which is already quite psychotic to begin with. He carries on lengthy conversations with what turns out to be a bowl of Alpha-Bits. “Your friends are flesh and bone,” explains Russell, “mine are oats and corn with eight essential nutrients.”

One of the great things about A Beautiful Mind is that you don’t quite know what’s real any more than Russell does. Oh well, it may be a delusional world but it’s a delusional world with Jennifer Connelly. Jen adds tasteful decoration to any rubber room, leisurely expanse to any straight-jacket. I’ll sing a loony tune if she’ll do the harmony.

I think A Beautiful Mind is director Ron Howard’s best movie to date. It’s a tenacious love story, a chronicle of doing, undoing, and re-doing, the type of success-against-all-odds tale that makes movies worth watching. And Russell Crowe’s performance is miraculous, absolutely Oscar-worthy.

See this movie!

A Beautiful Mind would be a terrible thing to waste.


Photos Copyright ©2001 Universal Pictures

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