The Pelican Brief

For some strange reason, there aren't many thrillers about the Supreme Court. The Pelican Brief remedies this obvious oversight by Hollywood. If you'd like to option 5-4 for film and television, we're all ears.

A podcast where we dissect and analyze the Supreme Court cases that have caused our nation to collapse, like Ticketmaster during a Taylor Swift presale

0:00:00.2 S?: But there has to be a change in plans.

0:00:01.7 S?: I don't understand.

0:00:02.9 S?: The Pelican Brief.

0:00:05.7 S?: What about the Pelican Brief? I thought that was ancient history.


0:00:12.3 Rachel: Hey, everyone. This isn't Leon from Fiasco and Prologue Projects. It's Rachel. I produce the show. Leon has COVID. On this week's episode of 5-4, Peter, Rhiannon, and Michael have a holiday treat. They're talking about a movie. Released in 1993, The Pelican Brief is one of the few legal films where the Supreme Court figures. In it, Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington evade assassins and a corrupt president to reveal the truth about the deaths of two Supreme Court justices. One critic called it "a heart-stopping, spine-chilling, adrenaline-pumping, run-for-your-life thriller." Our critics have some notes. This is 5-4, a podcast about how much the Supreme Court sucks.

0:01:00.8 Peter: Welcome to 5-4, where we dissect and analyze the Supreme Court cases that have caused our nation to collapse like Ticketmaster during a Taylor Swift presale. I'm Peter, I'm here with Michael.

0:01:11.0 Michael: Hey, everybody.

0:01:13.9 Peter: And Rhiannon.

0:01:15.1 Rhiannon: Some people are experiencing, like, real PTSD, Peter, from what you just said.

0:01:22.4 Michael: Trigger warning.

0:01:22.5 Rhiannon: Not me.

0:01:22.6 Peter: For most Taylor Swift fans, it was the first time anything in their life had gone wrong.


0:01:29.5 Peter: Pretty traumatic stuff. Also an outdated reference, even as we record. And we're going to release this in, like, a couple of weeks. So by the time everyone hears it, it's just going to be unbelievably dated. I'm sorry.

0:01:42.4 Rhiannon: That's where we are.

0:01:43.0 Peter: That was what I came up with. Today, we are doing a special episode. In the spirit of the holidays, we thought, why not do something fun? Why not do something that would usually be a premium episode, even, and talk about a movie? One of the only movies, like mainstream movies, to ever be released about the Supreme Court.

0:02:05.0 Rhiannon: There aren't many.

0:02:06.4 Peter: There are none. The Pelican Brief.

0:02:09.4 Rhiannon: Wait, I just noticed something. I imbibed in a little something before we started recording. But I don't see that either one of you has a drink or anything. You're just, you're going in straight on this? You're going in totally stone cold sober.

0:02:23.4 Michael: I am sober. And you're right. I should have a drink. This is an episode that calls for a drink.

0:02:27.7 Peter: That's true. Should we get drinks?

0:02:29.1 Michael: Yeah, let's get drinks.

0:02:29.6 Rhiannon: Yeah, I think you should.

0:02:30.6 Peter: Alright. It's already too late for me to go to the gym. So I'm down. Let's get drunk.

0:02:36.6 S?: Five minutes later.

0:02:39.4 Peter: Alright. We're back with booze. And we're ready to go.

0:02:42.0 Michael: Peter, what are you drinking?

0:02:43.4 Peter: I am drinking straight tequila.

0:02:45.1 Rhiannon: Oh, my God. [laughter]

0:02:46.6 Michael: As am I.


0:02:49.5 Peter: Let's go.

0:02:50.3 Rhiannon: This is a true callback to our first episodes.

0:02:53.0 Peter: Yeah. It's nerve-racking to record a podcast when you're not used to it. And to help with those nerves, I used to get pretty drunk during the recording of podcasts. I don't anymore. But every now and then, it's fun to revisit.

0:03:09.7 Michael: Especially when you're talking about the murder of two Supreme Court justices. Fictional, of course.

0:03:17.2 Peter: The terrible tragedy that struck the fictional world of The Pelican Brief. So let's focus up. The Pelican Brief, 1993 film, based on the book by John Grisham. It is directed by Alan Pakula. The film stars a young Julia Roberts.

0:03:38.8 Rhiannon: Mother.

0:03:40.1 Peter: And might I say, Awooga.

0:03:41.8 Rhiannon: Smoking hot.

0:03:45.7 Peter: Awooga, folks.

0:03:46.4 Rhiannon: Mamasita.

0:03:48.8 Peter: My goodness. And a young Denzel Washington. Not a bad-looking gentleman.

0:03:53.8 Rhiannon: Father. Strapping, fit, glowing.

0:03:58.7 Peter: Yeah. Some minor characters. You got Stanley Tucci. You got John Lithgow. You got the dad from Home Alone.

0:04:10.6 Michael: Cynthia Nixon.

0:04:12.2 Peter: A whole array of talented character actors.

0:04:16.6 Rhiannon: But Peter, sorry, I have to correct you. It's not Stanley Tucci. It's Stanley Abdul Tucci. Because he is Arab in this movie.

0:04:24.7 Michael: That's right.

0:04:25.1 Peter: That's right. He's playing an Arab. And this is 1993, which is before the time when you could just put an Arab on a screen. But you could get an Italian. That was considered acceptable.

0:04:38.6 Rhiannon: Right. That's right, yeah.

0:04:40.0 Peter: That's the swarthiest you could go at the time before people started to get upset.

0:04:44.0 Michael: I do want to note that the phrase Rhiannon used to describe a young Stanley Tucci in this movie was, and I quote, "Sex energy."


0:04:57.0 Michael: In our prep.

0:04:57.8 Rhiannon: He's looking very good.

0:05:00.6 Peter: He looks absolutely ripped in this movie.

0:05:01.1 Michael: Yeah, he's ripped.

0:05:03.1 Rhiannon: Yeah. He doesn't give me this energy in other movies. He's not an unattractive guy, right? But I don't get this... Uh, this, which we got in the Pelican Brief.

0:05:14.2 Michael: Well, I mean, when you kill two Supreme Court justices.

0:05:15.8 Peter: That's right.

0:05:18.1 Michael: That's when Rhiannon gets the sex energy vibes.


0:05:20.8 Peter: Yeah. It's inherently sexy. So the plot. Let's give a quick overview of the plot. Two Supreme Court justices, one liberal, one conservative, are assassinated. Julia Roberts plays Darby Shaw, a law student at Tulane. She starts looking at cases and issues where the two justices agreed in order to put together a theory of who did this. She finds out about an ongoing case where there are some oil interests fighting for the ability to drill near an environmental preserve. She writes it up into a brief, the Pelican Brief, and shows her law professor, who shows some connected friends. Turns out her theory was right. In fact, the conspiracy goes all the way to the top.


0:06:07.8 Peter: The president of the United States is somewhat implicated by the theory, not directly, but his main donor is like the guy who's at the top. And so the bad guys get wind of the brief, and everyone who knows about it starts getting murdered. And it's up to young, hot Julia Roberts and intrepid reporter Denzel Washington, also young and hot, to expose the bad guys.

0:06:35.5 Rhiannon: That's right. We missed, I think, an important plot point, Peter, which is that Julia Roberts is sleeping with that law professor.

0:06:43.6 Michael: That's right.

0:06:45.0 Peter: Yeah, for no reason from a plot perspective at all.

0:06:51.2 Rhiannon: Right.

0:06:51.7 Michael: I...

0:06:52.4 Rhiannon: Go ahead, Michael. Do you disagree? You think it advances the plot?

0:06:55.1 Michael: No. I just... Here's what I think. One of the central premises of this movie is that a 20-something, left-leaning, brilliant law student who also happens to be supermodel gorgeous would be interested in a 40-something, hard-drinking has-been with some authority on the law. And I think that's right.


0:07:19.0 Rhiannon: Yeah. True story.

0:07:22.6 Michael: Yeah. And the movie's like, she's right to. She's really into him, and he means a lot to her. I think that's right. I think 40-something, hard-drinking, legal has-beens.

0:07:31.1 Peter: You say hard-drinking, but it's pretty clear that he is a full-on alcoholic to the point where it's a problem.

0:07:37.0 Michael: Well, I'm not an alcoholic, and I'm trying to relate here.

0:07:40.8 Peter: I know. I know.

0:07:42.5 Rhiannon: Don't kill the dream, Peter. Come on.

0:07:46.2 Peter: But there are like, some of the early scenes involve Julia Roberts just managing the alcoholism of her 40-something professor.

0:07:53.2 Michael: It's so inappropriate. And the movie's just like, this is normal.

0:07:56.1 Rhiannon: Right. Absolutely.

0:08:00.8 Peter: So I think my main critique of this movie, and it is a good movie, it's a fun movie, classic like '90s suspense thriller vibes. The main problem is that at a high level, the conspiracy does not make any sense. There's just no need to kill two Supreme Court justices in this scenario. It's revealed late in the movie that the case isn't even pending at the Supreme Court. It's going to be argued at the Fifth Circuit like a month from then, which means there's a good chance that it's never heard by the Supreme Court, or at least the merits of the case aren't heard for many, many years. This is an incredibly roundabout way to get what you want if you're the oil company. And also, yeah, you're an oil company. Make two phone calls. Go bribe some senators and get some legislation passed or whatever. That's got to be easier than assassination.

0:08:52.5 Rhiannon: Right, right.

0:08:53.5 Michael: They are in deep enough with the president that he leans on the director of the FBI in this movie to not investigate this potential link. If you're that politically connected, just do it legally. Just buy the state legislature in Louisiana or whatever. What are you talking about here?

0:09:15.9 Peter: Instead of doing some basic lobbying, they thought they would kill two Supreme Court justices. And then also, when a random law student even floats the theory that they're responsible, without any real evidence, she's just guessing, they then try to murder her and everyone she tells.

0:09:33.5 Rhiannon: People start dropping.

0:09:35.5 Peter: Including members of the FBI at various points. Which they seem to think will help cover this up. Just like a trail of bodies that plainly leads to them.

0:09:45.9 Michael: The least subtle murders too. One of the justices in this, the movie opens with him just clearly on death's door.

0:09:54.1 Rhiannon: Oh, sick as a damn dog.

0:09:56.5 Michael: There are protests outside the Supreme Court, and one of the signs says "Die faster." Which is an incredible sign. It's so good.

0:10:04.7 Peter: Almost 30 years before 5-4, someone had a Die Faster sign.

0:10:10.6 Rhiannon: And people are mad at us for the Scalia's dead shirt, please.

0:10:14.6 Michael: And then when the assassin kills him, the camera pans over legitimately 100 different pill bottles.

0:10:20.8 Rhiannon: Yes.

0:10:21.8 Michael: And the method they go for is bullet to the head for him and his nurse. It's like, why? Why? Why not just like a pillow?

0:10:27.8 Rhiannon: He was already on the way out.

0:10:30.1 Michael: Yeah, just put a little pillow over his head while he's asleep and that's it. Nobody would ever think twice about it, right? Like, it's insane.

0:10:37.5 Peter: No, they decide to kill them both in the same night, making it clear that it's one conspiracy. One guy shot along with his nurse. The other neck snapped in a porno theater of some kind. And that's supposed to be the conservative justice. And it seems like they just put it in for fun, being like, yeah, the conservative justice is a bit of a pervert. And the only time it ever really comes back is right after the president attends his funeral. The president is like, "You know, that was the right thing to do to attend, no matter where the body was found."

0:11:12.6 Rhiannon: Thanks.

0:11:14.2 Peter: Just openly saying that they were contemplating not going to the funeral because he was murdered in a porno theater.

0:11:21.0 Rhiannon: Right. Right.

0:11:21.9 Michael: It's so good. It's so good.

0:11:25.8 Rhiannon: You know, that scene where Stanley Tucci, Arab Stanley Tucci, murders the guy in the porn theater, it is emblematic, I think, of maybe a problem throughout the movie, which is that this scene is entirely too long. Arab Stanley Tucci is shown sort of undoing a rope belt, like, real slowly. And we think, like, oh, he's in a porn theater. Maybe he's going to jack off. Or what are we using the rope for? And then he just fucking snaps the neck of the man in front of him. But we really didn't need all of that before, you know?

0:11:57.4 Peter: Right.

0:11:58.2 Michael: Or after. Then he, like, slowly pulls the rope back.

0:12:03.6 Rhiannon: Right. Right. Right.

0:12:04.6 Michael: With a soundtrack to a porno, just, like, the sound of loud sex throughout. It's excellent. I loved it. I personally enjoyed that scene.


0:12:14.4 Peter: Well, so first of all, we should say Stanley Tucci is, like, the primary assassin working for the oil company. There are many assassins.

0:12:20.5 Rhiannon: Oh, yeah.

0:12:21.7 Peter: It's one of those '90s movies where, like, wherever Julia Roberts and Denzel go, there are assassins there. Unless there's a plot reason for them not to be there. Like, if Denzel and Julia need to bond, the assassins are not there. But if they're just going somewhere, the assassins are there.

0:12:41.6 Rhiannon: That's right.

0:12:43.3 Peter: And they're charging full speed at her in public. The assassin's go-to move is a full sprint, head down, making a murder face directly at Julia Roberts in public.

0:12:56.0 Rhiannon: Sometimes pulling guns out of their pockets in a crowd.

0:13:00.1 Peter: Right. And she's running and screaming. And people in New Orleans are just like, what the fuck is going on?

0:13:05.9 Michael: Getting out of the way.

0:13:06.0 Rhiannon: Right. Yes.


0:13:06.5 Michael: At one point, she runs through this crowded kitchen, this commercial kitchen.

0:13:11.5 Rhiannon: Oh, yeah. They wreck an industrial kitchen.

0:13:14.5 Michael: Right. And 15 different guys are just, like, as this other guy is running after her. They're just like, what, what, what?

0:13:21.5 Rhiannon: Oh, these people have somewhere to be.

0:13:22.9 Michael: Out of the way. Let him through. You got fucking knives. There's a dozen of you. Like, nobody's going to be like, hmm.

0:13:30.9 Peter: That guy really looks like he's trying to kill that girl.

0:13:34.7 Michael: Fuck.

0:13:36.5 Peter: That guy looks like he's about to kill that 10 out of 10 bombshell that just ran through our kitchen.

0:13:44.4 Rhiannon: You know, there are too many assassins in this movie, because there are two that I don't even know who they're assassinating for. So close to the end, when they're leaving the bank, they found the guy's lockbox, and Denzel and Julia are rushing out. It's a man and a woman who are following them.

0:14:02.8 Peter: A lady assassin. Yeah.

0:14:04.6 Rhiannon: The lady assassin. Who the fuck are they?

0:14:06.8 Michael: I think they work for the oil company.

0:14:07.7 Peter: They also work for the oil company.

0:14:07.8 Rhiannon: Okay.

0:14:08.5 Michael: It's not always clear.

0:14:10.3 Peter: It's just sort of implied that they do. Yeah. I mean, yeah. Everywhere they go, there's more assassins. None of them are super competent. At no point is someone just like, let's shoot her from a distance. They always have to get right up close. There's one scene in the French Quarter in New Orleans where there's a guy who hits on her and serenades her a bit. And he's just trying to stall her so the other assassin can get to her. But it's like, if you're working with the assassins, why are you flirting with her? You're right next to her. Just kill her right now.

0:14:45.8 Michael: Right. In the private laundry rather than in the public square where you follow her out to.

0:14:51.9 Peter: It doesn't make a lot of sense.

0:14:53.8 Rhiannon: Yes.

0:14:54.2 Peter: It's one of those movies, and this is a very sort of '80s, '90s thing, where the bad guys are alternately incredibly competent and incompetent depending on the circumstance and what the plot demands.

0:15:08.1 Rhiannon: Right. Well, and the main character is also sort of, like, impossibly a little bit invincible, right? Like, there are some scenes that of this chasing dynamic that is repeated throughout the movie with an assassin right behind her, right? And then she'll turn a corner, and then the scene ends, and in the next scene, she's waking up at the motel. You know? You're like, well, what happened?

0:15:29.4 Peter: Right.

0:15:32.2 Michael: Another detail about the assassins that I really like, as we mentioned, it's an Arab Stanley Tucci. He plays an assassin who's also a well-known terrorist, Middle Eastern terrorist. So this is kind of like if Exxon Mobil hired Osama bin Laden to personally assassinate someone, right, to sneak into the US and murder someone.

0:15:53.3 Rhiannon: Yeah. It's nonsensical.

0:15:56.9 Peter: The implication that the best murderers are terrorists.

0:15:58.2 Michael: Yeah, high-profile terrorists. Yeah.

0:16:01.5 Peter: That feels like a very antiquated concept, right? The idea that this guy is basically an Arab Navy SEAL.

0:16:09.7 Rhiannon: Yeah, that's right.

0:16:09.7 Peter: Who is a terrorist, but also just working for money, presumably, for an oil company, right? What is his terrorist ideology? I don't know. They don't explain it.

0:16:20.6 Rhiannon: I was googling to see one of the actors' names, and I saw a summary of Stanley Tucci's character from the novel. And John Grisham goes into a lot of detail, apparently. The guy's kills are listed. Like, yeah, so it's very much in this era, let's say.

0:16:39.7 Michael: Sick.

0:16:41.3 Peter: Yeah, yeah. Alright, so let's talk about the politics of the movie a little bit.

0:16:47.3 Michael: Yeah, so one thing, as we said, the assassination plot makes kind of no sense. It's so silly in a lot of ways. But the basic idea is correct and presented in a way that's uncontroversial, that you have a pretty good idea of how Supreme Court justices will rule in controversial cases. And if you want to get better outcomes, the only way to do that is change the makeup of the Court.

0:17:13.3 Rhiannon: Right, right. The people who are on the Court really matter.

0:17:15.9 Michael: Who appoints them matters, right? They say multiple times the reason why they need to kill this guy who's dying anyway right now is that he might survive past the election and the president might change, right? We need to make sure it's in a friendly president who's replacing him. And that because, you know, these are life tenures, the only way they leave office is death, right? Unless they choose to retire, it's death. And I mean, so on a serious note, we talked about this just in our last episode in the Sotomayor episode, but, like, where it's not always pleasant to talk about this stuff. But yeah, it makes sense in the broadest possible terms that you'd be like, yeah, there's billions of dollars of oil on the line. Let's fucking kill a Supreme Court justice. Like, that makes sense, like, in the abstract. The specific details of this don't.

0:18:04.5 Peter: And if the conspiracy was just we're a bunch of conservatives who want the Court to be more conservative, and so we're going to kill a couple of liberals, that would have made sense, right, in the broad sense. They got too specific with the conspiracy, and it stopped making sense as they drilled down. But the overall idea that the justices on the Court matter, and when you kill them, the politics of the Court changes, that's viable, and that's like you could base an assassination conspiracy on that, for sure.

0:18:38.0 Michael: It feels very much in line with our theories and approach to the Court, right? And one that's considered déclassé or whatever, but it's heartening to see it presented as such a common sense background assumption to a popular story, right, and popular fiction, popular media. Our producer wants me to specify that when I say our theories about the Court, what I mean is that the influence of politics and the Court's place in politics at the Court and all that, and for sure, we would never advocate for violence.

0:19:19.6 Rhiannon: Sure. And so...

0:19:23.6 Peter: We've got to cut all this.

0:19:27.4 Rhiannon: This other hyper-realistic almost thing that the movie tried to do is show protests outside of the Supreme Court and so on the one hand, like, yeah, there are protests outside the Supreme Court, and so it's like something the movie tries to get right, but on the other hand, it just shows, first of all, protests all the time. Anytime somebody is at the Supreme Court...

0:19:51.1 Peter: Every shot of the Supreme Court, there's a mob of protesters outside.

0:19:54.3 Rhiannon: There's a massive protest, right, and then the second thing is that the crowd is not all protesting the same thing. So there are save our children signs, and also abortion is murder signs and also...

0:20:08.8 Peter: Anti-death penalty, anti-fur, pro-gay rights.

0:20:12.7 Rhiannon: Yes.

0:20:13.3 Peter: All together, just like any issue, you're allowed to join the protest. It's not really coherent. That also feels like an antiquated thing where protester was like a type of person, and there's a great scene where Denzel, I think, is running away from what's later revealed to be a CIA guy, and he runs through a protest in order to get away, and he grabs a protest sign to blend in, but if you look closely, he is the only Black person in the crowd of like 100 people.

0:20:47.5 Rhiannon: Yeah, you know what? Did you guys catch when Denzel, towards the beginning of the movie, when he's just trying to find out who his lawyer informant is, the anonymous lawyer guy, and he's out taking pictures of him, and then he tries to follow him on foot? The lawyer gets in a taxi, and then Denzel tries to wave down a taxi. The taxi slows down, sees him, and passes on, and Denzel's mad. He kicks the taxi, right? So it's just like this little detail addition of like, oh, yeah, this guy is also a Black man experiencing everyday racism, right?

0:21:22.5 Peter: Right, right.

0:21:22.6 Michael: Yeah, it's funny because I recently did an Unclear and Present Danger podcast with Jamelle Bouie and they just did a Pelican Brief episode, which you guys should check out.

0:21:32.0 Peter: Yeah, we want to say that we planned this, and were about to record it right when their episode dropped, and we were too far along to change our plans. So sorry, Jamelle. We're not ripping you off. We're fans.

0:21:43.5 Rhiannon: Right. But it's funny 'cause we were talking about whiteness in The Fugitive in the one I guested on and he talked about the ability of the protagonist there to escape into a St. Patrick's Day parade because he's white, and it's so simple, and his ability to blend. And it's very funny that Denzel, that's not the case, but the movie's just like, yeah, but he can. He just stands out so much, but the movie's just like, yeah, but he gets lost in the crowd anyway. That's it.

0:22:13.6 Peter: Right, right. Now, we should talk about the first murder, the murder of the professor. And the professor and Julia are just engaged in a love affair, and the professor hands off the brief to his FBI friend, the dad from Home Alone, and then there is a sort of weird scene where he's just too drunk and hanging out with Julia Roberts, and he's going to drive, and she gets into a fight with him about it. And then he gets into the car, and she turns around, and she's looking at him, and he starts the car, and it blows up. And it's actually a pretty good shot of Julia Roberts in shock, and obviously realizing that the bomb was potentially for her in the ensuing scene, and it was in my mind that, like, I guess it's supposed to be sort of tragic, but at the same time, it's like, well, he was about to drunk-drive like pretty drunk.

0:23:11.4 Michael: Really drunk.

0:23:12.4 Rhiannon: But again, like Michael said, like presenting these kinds of issues just as like, oh, you get some character building, and not like, this is fucking problematic.

0:23:20.0 Michael: This might have minimized deaths, this car bomb.

0:23:24.4 Peter: Right, right. In one of the professor's last scenes, he's talking to his FBI friend and his FBI friend is like, oh, there's a new girl, and the FBI friend is like, oh, how old is she this time? So to be clear, this man is a serial predator, alcoholic, drunk-driver, and he's just presented as like a character, right? It's not like, look at this awful piece of shit. It's just sort of like, here's a guy.

0:23:51.5 Rhiannon: Julia Roberts is fully in love with him, yeah.

0:23:53.5 Michael: Right, a lovable character that our heroine who we root for is carrying a torch for, and that's not a personality flaw of hers at all. She chooses Denzel as the press guy she confides in because the alcoholic was a fan of him. She talks about how the professor would want her to live rather than take down this shadowy cabal and all this shit, right? She's like honoring his memory in so many ways. I mean, what the fuck?

0:24:27.4 Peter: It's weird to just see the professor-student relationship, the alcoholism and drunk-driving all presented without any judgment at all. Just sort of surreal.

0:24:37.0 Rhiannon: Yeah.

0:24:38.4 Peter: We should talk a bit about Denzel's character as well. He's a reporter at the Washington Herald, which I assume is supposed to be the Post, and I think he's relatively well-known. And Julia Roberts goes to him with the story and he spends the first chunk of his arc trying to convince his editor. His editor is like, "I'm taking you off this... I'm taking you off this story. I'm going to put you on a stupid story, a stupid story that doesn't matter." And he's like, "No, I can feel it in my blood. There's something here, John Lithgow." And John Lithgow's like, "Alright, I'm going to give you one more shot, kid."

0:25:19.7 Michael: "Go to your remote cabin and think about this."

0:25:24.1 Peter: "Bring me information of some kind that means something." Meanwhile, what Denzel has brought him so far is, like, "Hey, this woman said that she presented a theory of who assassinated the Supreme Court justices and then multiple people surrounding her were immediately murdered violently." And John Lithgow is like, "Are you going to actually come to me with a real story or are you going to come to me with this bullshit?"

0:25:51.6 Rhiannon: Yeah. He says at one point, it's supposition on supposition.

0:25:56.8 Michael: It's like, dude, a law professor got fucking car-bombed, and the head of the FBI's lawyer got assassinated, and they were best friends, and they had met days before both of them were murdered in this manner.

0:26:10.0 Peter: Right. And you have a witness telling you...

0:26:12.3 Michael: I know what's connecting them.

0:26:17.4 Peter: John Lithgow is like, "When are you going to bring me a story?" Like, what are you talking about, dude? This is... And even just a law professor getting car-bombed. What does Lithgow want here? Lithgow is sending him to Little Rock to cover the funeral or something.

0:26:30.9 Rhiannon: It's one of the nominees, yeah.

0:26:33.9 Peter: One of the nominees to replace one of the murdered Supreme Court justices.

0:26:37.7 Rhiannon: But still so stupid.

0:26:37.7 Peter: It's just the most boring shit.

0:26:40.0 Michael: It's also very funny when later on Lithgow thinks that Denzel is dead briefly for like 20 seconds. Like not even, right? Somebody tells him that Denzel's car got blown up and then as he's having a moment, Denzel walks in, and that tension is gone, but in that 20 seconds, he says, "I knew I should have taken him off the case." And it's like, what are you talking about? That's like, when I said that, you thought it was too dangerous, but you thought it was bullshit. That's why you said he should...

0:27:03.6 Rhiannon: Right, right. You did try to take him off the case, constantly.

0:27:08.2 Michael: Right, right. Because you thought it was garbage, not because it was dangerous. It's just so very ridiculous, very ridiculous.

0:27:15.8 Peter: There is one other Denzel thing that I want to mention, which is that there's this other guy who works for the oil company law firm who is trying to reach out to Denzel because he stumbled upon something, and Denzel has a conversation with him where the guy's obviously scared.

0:27:34.5 Michael: Yeah. And he's staying anonymous. He knows that he has something, but doesn't want to reveal his identity to Denzel.

0:27:42.5 Peter: And Denzel is on the phone with him and the guy's like, "Are you tracing this call?" And Denzel's like, "No, man, I'm not tracing it. I'm not doing anything like that." And the guy just hangs up and Denzel immediately traces the call and just finds out exactly where he was. And I honestly thought that they were sort of setting up just sort of like a dark side of the Denzel character, but they weren't. They were just being reporters doing reporter stuff. He's like an unequivocal good guy.

0:28:13.6 Rhiannon: Right. But then it made it less believable the multiple times after that throughout the movie that he assures a source that he's going to treat their confidentiality seriously and do what they want with the information.

0:28:24.0 Peter: Exactly. I thought he was potentially going to do something to put Julia Roberts at risk because we had already seen him do it with the law firm guys. I guess that they were just trying to be like, "Look, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do."

0:28:39.3 Michael: Right, right. He goes and he stakes out, 'cause the guy called him from a payphone, right? So he goes and he stakes out the payphone and then gets a photo of the guy when the guy tries to contact him later. And then later on, he's telling Julia Roberts in a period when she still doesn't fully trust him that he has a photo of this guy that they need to track down, and she's like, "Well, how did you get a photo of him if you don't know who he is?" And he's like, "Oh, that's a different story." And he just sort of smiles and we're like...

0:29:02.6 Peter: Don't worry about it.

0:29:03.8 Michael: Yeah, don't worry about it. It's so sketchy, it's so sketchy.

0:29:07.9 Peter: So sketchy.

0:29:09.3 Rhiannon: But the fact of the photo is also very hilarious because it's absolutely quintessentially '90s, right, that he has a photo of the guy and he knows that he works at a law firm, but cannot figure out who it is because they don't have the internet.

0:29:23.4 Peter: They have the name of the law firm, they have a picture of the guy, and they're just like, "What are we going to do here?"

0:29:28.2 Rhiannon: It's a huge thing that they have to overcome that they don't know who this guy is.

0:29:32.5 Peter: Right. And the way they overcome it is by going to a law school to find someone who worked there and then the kid who knows is in an insane asylum.

0:29:43.0 Rhiannon: Yeah, he's in a psychiatric facility. Yeah.

0:29:45.1 Peter: He's in a mental hospital and they go and find that kid, and Julia Roberts is like, "Do you know this guy?" And the kid's like, yeah, it's so and so, and then he's like, "By the way, you're beautiful." It's just a weird moment of like... They're like, "Well, what else would the kid say to Julia Roberts? He'd probably say that she's hot, right? Let's have him say that."

0:30:07.1 Michael: Yeah, yeah. He tells her, he's like, "When you walked in, at first I thought I was hallucinating." And she apologizes for disturbing him, and he's like, "No. I'll jerk off to this hallucination for the next three weeks."

0:30:19.7 Peter: He was like, "That's the kind of hallucination I like." Like, ugh.

0:30:26.1 Rhiannon: This is a good place to take a break.

0:30:28.2 Michael: Yeah.

0:30:32.2 Rhiannon: We're back.

0:30:33.3 Peter: So we should talk about some of the... There's not that much law in the movie.

0:30:35.6 Rhiannon: No.

0:30:35.8 Peter: But there's a little bit. There's the one law school scene, which is early in the movie before the assassinations even, and the professor is talking about Bowers v. Hardwick, which we just did an episode about, where in the mid '80s, the Court held that there was no constitutional right to gay sex. And he's like, "What's the claim here? Why could two guys potentially have sex in their home if they wanted to?" And every very stupid law student raises their hand with a not really correct answer. Someone's like, "Well, they were in their house." And he's like, "Well, you can't deal drugs in a house, you fucking idiot."

0:31:18.3 Michael: You can't traffic children in a house, can you?

0:31:23.3 Peter: And then someone else says something that's a little more accurate, and then Julia Roberts says something poignant, and he's like, "Well, the Supreme Court disagreed with you." And she's like, "Well, they're wrong." And they have a little moment, and you're like, oh, I guess they have a sassy relationship where she's asserting herself, and then immediately it's revealed that they're having sex, and you're like, ugh.

0:31:41.2 Rhiannon: Right, right. It couldn't be that she's just extremely articulate and strong in her convictions and a brilliant law student on her own, right? It's that this was actually some cheeky foreplay.

0:31:52.5 Rhiannon: Yeah, it's foreplay. It's fucking awful.

0:31:55.7 Peter: Right, gross. One thing we haven't mentioned, although it's not that big of a deal, is that the professor is the former clerk of one of the murdered Supreme Court justices.

0:32:06.1 Rhiannon: Yeah, the liberal one.

0:32:08.5 Peter: And that's sort of why he's a little bit invested in it, and it's implied, I guess, that he started drinking again maybe, right?

0:32:17.8 Rhiannon: Because he's sort of broken up about it, yeah.

0:32:18.3 Peter: Right. And he's like, "Maybe I'll write a book about him." And then when he's drunk right before he gets car-bombed, he goes to Julia, and he's like, "You should write the book." And it's like she's like 24 in law school and doesn't know him. What are you fucking talking about, dude?

0:32:33.7 Rhiannon: Yeah. Another law thing that's kind of throughout the movie is basically the process and the procedural posture of the trial below, right, where the oil company is a party. And one thing that I feel like it gets wrong is when Julia is telling Denzel the whole story and he's listening to the recording of them and she's whispering. 40% of Julia Roberts in this movie is whisper acting.

0:33:03.8 Peter: Yeah, it's a sexy whisper.

0:33:05.1 Rhiannon: Yeah, yeah, yeah. She just whispers the whole time. And so she's whispering the whole thing to Denzel and she says that at the trial, a three-person jury.

0:33:15.6 Michael: Yeah, I caught that too.

0:33:17.4 Rhiannon: Maybe that's like the State of Louisiana.

0:33:20.0 Michael: It's a Louisiana thing.

0:33:20.1 Peter: I couldn't tell if that was a Louisiana thing or they were saying jury when they meant some sort of panel or something like that.

0:33:25.9 Rhiannon: I thought that too, but this next sentence is the three-person jury found for the oil company.

0:33:31.3 Michael: Like the judge.

0:33:32.3 Rhiannon: Right. But the judge maintained the injunction. So it must be that Napoleonic Code. They wouldn't get it that wrong, would they?

0:33:40.5 Peter: Yeah, maybe not. It's very funny that they take so many liberties, but then they're really accurate about the length of the appellate process, where they're like, well, yeah, it'll be up before the Fifth Circuit and then it could be years before the Supreme Court hears it. Even though that makes the movie super shaky in terms of its fundamental premise, they decided not to just like fudge the numbers a little bit on where exactly this case stands. Nothing else makes sense and they have all sorts of weird liberties they take with like the assassins, et cetera, but they were like, "We got to get the appellate process spot on correct." And I think maybe we should talk about just like the '90s-ness of the movie. There's obviously like the small things. There's the clothes.

0:34:35.9 Rhiannon: Yeah, fashion and hair, shoes.

0:34:38.7 Peter: I have to... Like Julia and Denzel...

0:34:40.5 Michael: Timeless.

0:34:41.6 Peter: Pretty much rocking the same styles that they did, right?

0:34:46.4 Rhiannon: Yeah.

0:34:47.6 Peter: In fact, a lot of the characters are relatively timeless in their style. There's nothing preposterous in terms of the outfits or anything.

0:34:54.8 Rhiannon: Yeah. It's a relatively conservative bunch, right? We're talking about journalists, politicians, law students, lawyers.

0:35:01.9 Michael: There were some like oversized suits and stuff, but nothing too crazy.

0:35:04.0 Peter: Yeah. That's coming back too.

0:35:09.5 Rhiannon: Oh, we didn't talk about Stanley Tucci's outfit option when he is acting like the FBI lawyer.

0:35:12.8 Peter: Oh, my God.

0:35:14.0 Rhiannon: So first of all, he finds out that the FBI lawyer that he's going to try to impersonate in order to get close to Julia Roberts. He finds out that he's 180 pounds. So it shows Stanley Tucci stuffing a pillow into his shirt. Stanley Tucci is like, what, 155? Like he's really got to beef up for this.

0:35:33.5 Peter: As if Julia Roberts is going to look at him and be like, no.

0:35:36.3 Rhiannon: Right, right, right.

0:35:39.0 Peter: That guy looks like he weighs 160, but I was told 180. That's one of my favorite overall scenes is Home Alone Dad, the FBI lawyer, is hanging out in his hotel, and he talks to Julia Roberts on the phone, and he's like, "I'm going to go meet you and sort of escort you to safety." And then it pans to the closet and you immediately know Stanley Tucci's in the closet, and he's coming to kill him. And Stanley Tucci just like slowly slides open the closet door, and then just shoots Home Alone Dad in the head, listens to his recording of the phone conversation that the guy just had with Julia Roberts, and then he impersonates Home Alone Dad.

0:36:24.3 Peter: And one of the fun gimmicks of Tucci's character was that he's a good voice guy, and early on, they have him playing with accents, and then for that scene, he dresses up like a complete '90s schlub. He stuffs his shirt with the pillow. He puts like a incredibly ill-fitting blue button-down over it, and a red baseball cap and glasses. Just looks like an absolute schmuck, like George Costanza on his worst day.

0:36:52.8 Rhiannon: Yeah. Exactly.

0:36:53.6 Peter: And then, he does a voice impression of Home Alone Dad that is spot on, like beautiful and so fucking good.

0:37:02.9 Michael: It really is. [chuckle]

0:37:05.0 Peter: It's so good. And then, he goes and tries to sneakily escort Julia Roberts. And there's a scene where he's quietly lifting up the pistol. Although he's doing it super sneakily, but he's about to murder her in a crowd of people, a full-on crowd of people.

0:37:21.3 Rhiannon: Yes, broad daylight, yeah.

0:37:23.8 Peter: And then, he gets sniped at the last second. And we have no idea what's going on until like the very last scene.

0:37:31.9 Michael: Yeah, that's right.

0:37:33.9 Peter: When the director of the FBI reveals that that was the CIA protecting her.

0:37:38.6 Michael: Probably, maybe. They're not sure.

0:37:40.0 Peter: Bizarre.

0:37:43.8 Michael: Yeah.

0:37:44.2 Peter: The... Oh, man, we got distracted from the '90s stuff.

0:37:48.8 Michael: There's like a whole tour of details that were like very '90s. VHS tapes, extensive use of pay phones, credit card slips. You remember those? She fills out a credit card slip that you have to like, clunk, clunk.

0:37:58.9 Peter: And I think the most quintessentially, maybe not '90s, but sort of antiquated thing was something that, Michael, you pointed out when we were discussing this is like, journalists are the heroes here.

0:38:10.5 Michael: Oh, yes.

0:38:11.5 Peter: And the goal is to publish a story, right? And once they publish the story, it's game over for the bad guys. There's a scene when they're about to publish the story where Denzel calls everyone for comment, right? Including the evil oil company. And the oil company guy is like, "We're going to sue you." And Denzel is like, "You know you've got no case." And the guy's like, "You son of a bitch!"


0:38:40.4 Rhiannon: And he slams the phone down, it's so funny.

0:38:43.7 Peter: He's so mad.

0:38:45.2 Rhiannon: Got you right there.

0:38:48.0 Peter: Just like the proceduralist victory. We have published the truth in the newspaper, therefore, you are defeated. And everyone accepts that as true, including the bad guy. And the bad guy is like, "We will sue you." This guy is part of a criminal operation that has murdered like half a dozen people in the past week-and-a-half.

0:39:08.9 Michael: Including two Supreme Court justices.

0:39:13.2 Peter: Including Supreme Court justices. And Denzel is just like, "You got no case, buddy." And the guy's like furious. Like, what?


0:39:21.2 Rhiannon: He's so mad.

0:39:24.5 Michael: It's so good, it's so good. Another really '90s detail is that like back in the '80s and '90s in movies, whenever a car crashed, it exploded.

0:39:35.8 Rhiannon: Yes.


0:39:38.9 Peter: Wait, can we talk about that scene front to back?

0:39:39.0 Rhiannon: Yes. This is the parking garage scene?

0:39:44.4 Peter: Denzel and Julia are making a slightly hasty run for it after grabbing some evidence. They're in a parking garage, they're in the car, and the car has been fitted with a bomb that blows up when they start the keys. And Denzel goes to turn the ignition like five times but Julia keeps saying something that distracts him, so it doesn't happen. And then, he finally does it and it sort of stalls out. She recognizes the sound from when she witnessed the first car bombing. And they make a run for it, after which this incredibly '90s chase scene ensues.

0:40:22.8 Rhiannon: Yes.

0:40:24.9 Michael: Right. Which I did want to say is a reminder of the earlier point about the assassins being alternating between competent and incompetent, going for the car bomb again. The guy is watching them, he could easily just shoot them as they walk up to the car, he's right there. And instead he waits for them to blow up in a car bomb, which is the same move he pulled before. So, she recognizes because the car bomb doesn't work on the first try, right? You have to really fucking crank the ignition. Just another one of those moments where you're like, "Why aren't you just killing them?"

0:41:00.7 Peter: Yeah.

0:41:01.6 Rhiannon: Exactly, yeah. And then, the assassins who are also sort of simultaneously following them. So again, the couple, the woman and the man. And the woman thinks that she has them cornered. So, they run away from the car bomb to car. And the woman assassin thinks she has them cornered by seeing their reflection in a car mirror.

0:41:22.7 Rhiannon: But not the mirror.

0:41:23.7 Peter: It was the backside of the mirror, which happens to be chrome.

0:41:27.4 Michael: Perfectly polished, super reflective. And she's like 30 feet away and a floor up. So, she's looking down, it's just unbelievable.

0:41:36.3 Peter: And Julia and Denzel, rather than continuing to run, which is their only hope of escaping the situation, they decided to hide. Which means in a parking garage, just sitting behind a car and hoping that the professional assassins in the same parking garage don't find you.

0:41:54.9 Rhiannon: But luckily, luckily, we have movie magic, we have '90s movie magic. And how do they get away? As the assassin points her gun to shoot them, a big scary dog jumps out at her.


0:42:11.3 Peter: She's standing next to a car that has an open window and a Rottweiler.


0:42:18.6 Michael: It is so good, it is so good. Yeah, the decision-making is just awful all around.

0:42:28.1 Rhiannon: It rules, it rules.

0:42:29.3 Michael: The second time I watched this with Alannah, there was also like... There's a scene where Julia Roberts, another chase scene, where she gets the sense that somebody in an elevator is maybe nefarious.

0:42:40.4 Rhiannon: Oh, yeah. Mm-hmm.

0:42:40.5 Michael: And so, she waits until the door is almost closed, 'cause it's a crowded elevator. And she slips out, and the guy gets stuck on the elevator. And it's on the eighth floor going down to the lobby. And then, she sprints all the way down, all the way down, racing the elevator. And Alannah's like, "Would you go up?" And I was like, "No, I would not go up."

0:43:01.9 Rhiannon: I thought about that too. I was like, "She should have gone up."

0:43:06.0 Michael: Up or to stop at any of the eight floors.

0:43:08.5 Peter: Anything.

0:43:10.3 Michael: Nine floors between there and the basement where she goes, like the sketchiest, least public place to be. But then, escapes to a service elevator, which once she gets in, it's like scene over. So, they got in the service elevator, and you're like, "OK, now she's safe." Why? Why is she safe in the service elevator?

0:43:27.4 Rhiannon: Right, right. Exactly.

0:43:28.5 Michael: Just, yeah, just silly '90s stuff.

0:43:31.3 Rhiannon: You gotta have an assassin chase.

0:43:33.9 Peter: One of the funny scenes to me was after John Lithgow, Denzel's boss, is like, "You gotta find me something. I can't just have a string of murders and something that ties it together. I need a real story here." Denzel retreats to his cabin, and it's raining out, and he sees someone with a flashlight outside. And he walks outside with a gun, just presenting himself for anyone to kill. And he's like, "Who's there?" And it's Julia Roberts, this young Darby Shaw, she's like, "It's Darby." And he's like, "How'd you find me?" And she's like, "Oh, you know, I have my ways." And it's like, well, if this fucking 24-year-old law student just found you, then it's time to run, because there are professional assassins after you right now. But this is just one of those situations where they needed to be safe to bond for a little bit. And so, they were safe until the morning, and that was that.

0:44:31.9 Rhiannon: She also explains how she finds out where that cabin is. And she just says, I called your boss.

0:44:37.1 Peter: And said that I was your sister.

0:44:39.2 Michael: The boss just gave it to him.

0:44:40.5 Peter: And he's like, "How do you know about my sister?" He's like, "You know, I got my ways, I got my ways." He should have been like, "Are you fucking kidding me? My bosses are just telling anyone who says they're my sister where I am? Like Oh, he's at his remote cabin in the middle of the woods if you want to go there." That's what his company's policy is?

0:45:01.1 Michael: Also, it's pouring rain, and he's alerted to somebody being outside by several barking dogs, which, apparently, he has dogs. We never heard about before or seen again.

0:45:12.6 Rhiannon: Right, doesn't ever show them.

0:45:13.8 Michael: That he leaves out in the pouring rain to patrol his property apparently. Like, like...


0:45:23.5 Peter: Barking dogs are just a sign in movies like this of something being not quite right. So, he's at home, he's like, "Oh, barking dog, what's going on? Is there something out there?"

0:45:32.5 Rhiannon: Yeah, exactly.

0:45:32.6 Michael: But you're in a cabin in the middle of the woods, are these wild dogs?

0:45:35.7 Peter: Who knows?

0:45:36.4 Michael: Nobody knows.

0:45:37.8 Peter: She's also like, it's not like she's walking up a road. She's walking through...

0:45:42.3 Rhiannon: Through the woods.

0:45:42.4 Peter: Wilderness.

0:45:44.0 Michael: There's not even a path. She's like... She's like, she's got a machete out.

0:45:51.1 Peter: Just being tracked by a 24-year-old white girl.

0:45:57.9 Michael: One thing we didn't mention. I mean, we sort of alluded to. But I think it's worth saying explicitly that the movie is right about, is that the conservative justices are perverts. Absolutely right.

0:46:08.6 Peter: Grisham wrote this in '92. And in the book, it was a gay porn theater. And this one, they don't show it but you sort of presume it's straight. But yeah, Clarence Thomas's whole thing was in 1991 and his pornography addiction was part of the hearings. And it's hard not to think perhaps, perhaps there's some inspiration being drawn from Clarence Thomas's life here.

0:46:33.7 Michael: Yes, yes.

0:46:34.6 Rhiannon: Yeah, yeah, for sure.

0:46:36.3 Peter: The whole film sort of wraps on the... They publish the story and it's like Deus Ex Machina. The truth is now out there and the good guys are victorious.

0:46:46.7 Rhiannon: Yeah. Indictments expected today.

0:46:49.5 Michael: Yes. The president's chief of staff resigns. The president is not expected to run again, the bad guys are all expected to be, if they're not already dead, to be arrested. And we're just like, yes. Once the truth is out, justice reigns.

0:47:05.5 Peter: Right. We were discussing this. But there's a degree to which you can see this playing out now. And it's just not how it goes, right? They publish a story being like, here's the party responsible for these assassinations and murders, and it tracks up to the Republican president. And then, Tucker Carlson is on TV the next day being like, "Who is Darby Shaw? We haven't seen her. There's a reporter that says that she exists, I don't think she does." And that's it. The story just fizzles out, Darby gets murdered.

0:47:36.1 Michael: Right. In Costa Rica or wherever she is.

0:47:39.9 Peter: And the Republican president wins re-election. That feels a little closer to how it would play out now.

0:47:45.8 Rhiannon: Yeah.

0:47:48.1 Michael: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

0:47:48.4 Peter: So, there is one other funny scene I want to mention before we wrap up. As we said, the president in this movie is not directly involved in the conspiracy, but he's politically implicated because the guy at the top of the conspiracy is one of his big secretive donors. And at one point, the president is talking to his cold-blooded advisor about how to address the situation. And the advisor is like, "Well, if you want this to just blow over, you could appoint two environmentalists to the Court." And the president just looks at him like, "What, are you fucking nuts?"


0:48:20.8 Peter: Like, "Are you fucking kidding me, dude? Absolutely not." And then, he's sort of like, "Well, what are our other options?" And then, the guy very heavily implies that they're going to commit murder. And the president is like, "OK."

0:48:36.4 Michael: Yes. Yeah. He's like, "You just need to keep this brief from getting out." He's like, "OK, I'm working on that." And he's like, "How?" And he's like, "You don't want to know, sir."

0:48:42.4 Rhiannon: Right. I like that more.

0:48:43.0 Peter: Which is Washington for we're going to kill people, 100%. I love that the solution to this crisis was floated to him, but it was nominate environmentalist to the Supreme Court, and the president was just like...

0:48:57.6 Rhiannon: Yeah. Unthinkable.

0:48:58.6 Peter: "What the fuck are you even like... " Like, didn't even say anything, just looked at him. Like, "Absolutely fucking not, kid."

0:49:07.0 Michael: So, one thing that I thought was very funny that we haven't mentioned was, actually, Alannah pointed this out, but I was cracking up about it too, is there's a scene where the president is in the hospital. And he's getting just like a checkup, right? He's getting his annual checkup. But the set designers, I guess, just went crazy or weren't aware of the context. And so, it's just like his hospital room is decked out with flowers and there's a big sign that says, "Get well, Grandpa," and all this stuff, like had been in this extended stay in the hospital.

0:49:42.8 Rhiannon: He's also in the swaggiest robe you've ever seen in your life.

0:49:45.0 Michael: Yes, he had this silk robe.

0:49:49.7 Rhiannon: Yes, with a collar, like a crisp ironed white collar.

0:49:53.2 Peter: Yeah. It's so good, it's such a ridiculous scene. Very good, very good.

0:49:58.2 Rhiannon: And also, another thing that doesn't further the plot at all, the chief of staff is outside the hospital talking to the press and saying, "This is just his annual checkup." And then, you go up into the room, and it's, "Get well, Grandpa," and all these flowers.

0:50:13.9 Michael: And you're like, maybe he's not healthy.

0:50:15.5 Peter: Right. I thought that that was going to be a plot point.

0:50:18.2 Rhiannon: Right. And then, it never comes up again.

0:50:19.3 Michael: Instead, he says, the press hates how healthy you are, they have nothing to talk about. And he's like, "Oh, God, good." And then, that's it.

0:50:26.3 Rhiannon: That's it.

0:50:27.1 Peter: That's such a Trump thing. He's at the doctor because he's so fucking healthy. Yeah, no, I thought that was going to be a thing where it turns out that he's about to die, and that's why he wants to make his mark on the Supreme Court. But no, that was just a weird scene that didn't need to be there, I don't quite get it. I feel like we've made it seem like this movie sucks, but it's actually a really fun, good movie.

0:50:51.8 Rhiannon: Yeah, it's good.

0:50:52.7 Michael: Yeah, I had a good time watching it.

0:50:54.7 Rhiannon: Yep, me too.

0:50:55.5 Michael: It's a little long, but other than that.

0:50:57.0 Peter: It's long, especially when you watch a movie from the '90s now. One of the benefits is every fucking movie now is two-and-a-half hours, and you're just like, ugh, 'cause it's all made for Netflix. You go back to the classics, and they tend to be a little on the shorter side. So, when I paused halfway and was like, "Two-and-a-half hours. Are you fucking kidding me?" It was a disappointment. But I am sort of mentally trained for long movies now, so it was fine.

0:51:25.2 Michael: Yeah, there was a moment where I was watching when Denzel had barely been in the movie since the first scene. And I was like, "Man, one thing that's dated about this is Denzel taking such a small role in a movie."

0:51:37.0 Peter: Yeah, yeah.

0:51:37.5 Michael: And it turns out he has a substantial role. It's all in the last 90 minutes, not in the first 45.

0:51:43.0 Peter: Right, right.

0:51:45.1 Rhiannon: Exactly.

0:51:46.3 Peter: Even though, it's long, the pacing of it is kind of good and fun. You don't really know the full scope of the conspiracy until well into the movie. Denzel's role is very minimal until a third of the way through the movie. There are a lot of ways in which they sort of build to a crescendo that allows that crescendo to play out for an extended period without it feeling unearned.

0:52:14.2 Rhiannon: I think that's right. And I think the other thing that makes it good is it's well-acted. It's fucking Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington, they're compelling to watch. It's good stuff.

0:52:24.5 Peter: Yeah. Julia Roberts was like maybe 26, and she's like a star.

0:52:28.9 Rhiannon: Yeah, movie star.

0:52:30.9 Peter: This is only a few years after Mystic Pizza, right? I was just thinking, there aren't that many more famous female actors, right?

0:52:41.2 Rhiannon: At the time?

0:52:41.6 Peter: At the time, right? I think that there were almost none. We're sort of like post-movie star in a way, right? But she was like the top of the A-list crop at this time, it feels like.

0:52:53.9 Rhiannon: For sure. Yeah. It's Julia and Denzel, a really interesting peak in their careers.

0:52:58.7 Peter: Yeah. Denzel had already done Malcolm X, and he won an Academy Award, I think, for Glory a few years before. He's pre-Training Day, which I think is his true peak.

0:53:11.3 Rhiannon: Yeah. Well, they both have multiple peaks after that, right? Yeah.

0:53:14.0 Peter: Right. Julia Roberts will do Erin Brockovich in like, what, the 2000s, seven years later? Long storied careers ahead of them, and also sort of behind them at the same time. And yeah, I guess if anyone out there knows Julia Roberts and wants to get her on the show, she wants to hit up 5-4, talk about the Supreme Court, let us know.

0:53:36.7 Rhiannon: Actually, we'll talk about anything. We don't even have to talk about the Supreme Court, Julia.

0:53:41.0 Peter: Maybe just coffee?


0:53:43.8 Michael: Julia, if you're still into hard-drinking...


0:53:49.1 Rhiannon: Has-been 40-something...

0:53:52.0 Michael: With expertise in the law.

0:53:53.1 Rhiannon: Law-adjacent guys.

0:53:54.0 Michael: Yeah, exactly.


0:54:02.2 Peter: Alright, folks. Next week, our second annual giving episode. Last year during the holidays, we did a special episode where we promoted a bunch of causes and organizations that were near and dear to us and to some of our listeners. And just sort of talked about some of the work they did, and gave a little shout out to their donations pages. And we're going to do it again, 'cause it was a good little heartwarming holiday treat for us and for our listeners. And we got some good feedback from the organizations too.

0:54:34.4 Rhiannon: Yeah.

0:54:35.8 Peter: Really proud of you guys.

0:54:36.1 Peter: We're going to keep fucking doing it. It was cool.

0:54:38.9 Rhiannon: Yeah. Yeah, really cool. We love you guys.

0:54:41.7 Peter: Alright. Follow us on Twitter @fivefourpod, subscribe to our Patreon,, all spelled out. Follow us on Instagram @fivefourpod. And yeah, we'll see you next week.

0:54:56.0 Michael: Bye.

0:54:56.6 Rhiannon: Bye.

0:55:00.0 Michael: 5-4 is presented by Prologue Projects. Rachel Ward is our producer, Leon Neyfakh and Andrew Parsons provide editorial support. Our production manager is Persia Verlin and our assistant producer is Arlene Arevalo. Peter Murphy designed our website, Our artwork is by Teddy Blanks at Chips NY and our theme song is by Spatial Relations.