Moscow on the Hudson (1984) Poster

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My released dream
Naum4 January 1999
The movie released in 1984 but I saw it only 2 years ago. I'm from former USSR and this film was prohibited in the Soviet Union.I think it's the best American film about America itself:sometimes fun,sometimes sad.It's useful especially for Russians who want to leave poor Russia for the US and release their 'Russian-American dream'.It's also the best film about the former USSR,its citizens' way of life,its lines to shops,surveillance of the KGB and many other bad things.I'm a history teacher in high school and I demonstrate this film to my young RUSSIAN students in Russian history class.Besides a very creditable performance of Robin Williams,Savely Kramarov.Very clever movie !
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A brilliant movie with disturbing accuracy.
alien_906302 February 2004
Robin Williams truly shows his amazing acting skills in this film. This movie is more of a drama than a comedy which is to be expected when you hear the plot of the story. Williams's Russian is quite convincing and the over all acting from the cast must be a 10 out of 10. It is easy to feel for Vladimir and the journey brings you along. The accuracy is stunning for those who lived through those kinds of situations. Vladimir finds that life is not perfect anywhere but he is sure happy to live in the land of opportunity, the land that gave him `Freedom'.
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An experience of a Russian immigrant to America
geosochi10 April 2002
As a Russian immigrant myself, I related the story to myself and liked the movie a lot. For those who never had such an experience, you may start to understand how hard it is to adapt to a new culture and why do people want to migrate in the first place. Also, for those who don't get the Russian culture, this might be kind of an introduction to it. Robin Williams is great as always, and I like especially his comedic style in a semitragic movie, which makes it so much easier to watch. If you have something against new immigrants to America and don't get why they come here at all, watch this movie and you'll understand why.
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THE ONLY western movie I've seen that truly shows life in the Soviet Union
krolikovod14 December 2002
This is THE ONLY movie I've seen that truly shows life in the Soviet Union, which is made in the West.

This is a great movie! It really hits on why people tried to run from the Soviet Union, the oppression there and the taste of freedom in the USA. It is extremely realistic! We were ashamed at some points in the movie associating ourselves with the former fellow countrymen. But the showed THE TRUTH! All of the things shown used to happen in real life.

Robin Williams was brilliant. He spoke Russian with almost no accent, which was amazing!

I am from the Soviet Union so I know what I'm talking about. Nearly all of the rest of the movies are not more than a joke when it concerns reflecting life in Russia or Soviet Union. Even in the Air Force One (with Harrison Ford!) I was laughing like crazy when they showed supposedly Russian Prison.

So, all of you lucky to be born in freedom, please see this movie and you maybe will start thinking why you are so lucky and how exciting but difficult is to be an immigrant!
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An entertaining and touching seriocomic tale
mattymatt4ever24 September 2002
My main reason for checking this movie out was because of Robin Williams. After seeing him in so many great films like "Insomnia" and "One Hour Photo" and watching his numerous hilarious talk show appearances, I've become even more curious about checking out the movies on his filmography that I have yet to see. Well, this is more than just a Robin Williams vehicle. Paul Mazursky cleverly combines comedy and drama, and expresses some good morals. He accurately portrays an immigrant's journey to America, and how he/she expects that America is a beautiful place where everyone can run free without any set limitations. It starts out as a fish-out-of-water comedy in which Russian immigrant Williams (who decides he wants to become an American citizen) explores the oddities of New York City and revels in its ambience, no matter how rough the neighborhoods are, no matter how many wackos are running around. Then he slowly learns that freedom has a price. America may be a free country, but that doesn't stop him from getting mugged and having his upstairs neighbors constantly complain about him playing his saxophone.

One thing that impressed me was rather than have a bunch of American actors don Russian accents, Mazursky actually has the actors speaking Russian to each other. Now, there are certain movies like "Schindler's List" and "K-19: The Widowmaker" in which we do see American actors speaking English and putting on foreign accents and still prove to be good movies, but it's always more engaging to see characters from a certain country speaking their native language. I mean, what if Russia were to make a movie set in America, where all the American characters were speaking Russian in American accents? How goofy would that look? I'm guessing that Williams was the only American actor in the cast, and the rest are actual Russians. I don't speak Russian, so I can't tell whether or not Williams was actually speaking Russian, but it looked convincing to me. But since mainstream American audiences have grown to hate reading subtitles, you probably won't see a movie like this released nationwide.

Robin Williams gives a terrific performance, totally disappearing into character. I was actually convinced he was a foreigner, as he speaks just like a Russian immigrant, in broken English, not articulating his words one bit. There was no sign of Robin Williams the Comedian in his character. Whenever he gets a laugh, he gets a laugh as Vladimir and not as Robin. Besides, this is one of his more serious roles and he never really plays it for laughs. Maria Conchita Alonso still sounds Cuban, as her Italian character, but she still gives a fine performance. Since I haven't seen her in any recent movies, it's nice to see her pretty face again. She was like the Salma Hayek of the 80's. Williams and Alonso have a good on-screen chemistry.

The friendship between Williams and his African-American friend, who goes as far as letting him move in with his family, is very touching. Working as a security guard at Bloomingdale's and seeing Williams wreaking havoc around the store, he starts out hating his guts. Before you know it, they're best buddies. The most touching scene is the one in which Williams leaves a jazz club, depressed after being told by a well-known jazz musician that he needs practice. He decides to throw his saxophone away and forget about being a musician altogether. His friend relates to his problem and gives him plenty of encouragement in pursuing his dream of playing the saxophone, as they get drunk and laugh their heads off. The movie stresses the outburst of immigrants in New York City, which is a melting pot society. Almost every character Williams comes in contact with is either a foreigner or a minority. Strange but undoubtedly true, if you were to examine the streets of New York. It's not unlikely to walk across a whole city block, where not one person speaks English.

The movie has no real plot structure, as it is mainly character-driven. The comedy is subtle, and arises naturally. My favorite quote from the film is when Williams says, "I bought my first pair of American shoes. They were made in Italy." That is a sample of the kind of humor in this film. I definitely suggest people check out this oldie-but-a-goodie.

My score: 7 (out of 10)
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Williams Best Performance!
channel_3_tv8 March 2004
Robin Williams delivers the best performance of his storied career (yes I know he won an Oscar for Good Will Hunting) as Vladimir Ivanoff a Russian musician who takes a chance at freedom in America. Released in 1984 during the height of U.S. Russian tension, director Paul Mazursky doesn't villify Russia instead using it as an opportunity to show how similar the people are to Americans. Noteworthy performances by Maria Conchita Alonso (as his eventual girlfriend) and Cleavant Derricks (as the Bloomingdales security guard who takes an immediate liking to Vladimir). Mazursky walks the line of schmaltz at times but doesn't cross over. Especially evident in a well done scene when Vladimir finds out about the death of his beloved grandfather. Moscow on the Hudson is an often overlooked film that to me stood out as one worth watching again and again.
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I love New York
marcslope27 January 2007
Manhattan looks so much more varied and gritty and real and less mall-ified than it does today in this, Paul Mazursky's 1984 love letter to the American way, and one of the last unambiguously patriotic mainstream American movies. (It's very much a product of its Reagan time, right down to the casual homophobia.) Robin Williams, for once not twinkling too hard or overworking his virtuosity or adorableness, is an Everyman Russian who unexpectedly defects in Bloomingdale's and goes on to live the immigrant experience, suffering urban indignities and romantic angst along the way. His worklife is a little easier, his economic situation a little less treacherous, and the people he meets a little nicer than they would be in real life. For all that, in its celebration of the melting pot and its warm embrace of the American urban landscape, the movie moved me to tears.
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A wonderful movie
Soledad-219 November 1999
I cannot understand why this movie has received such a low rating of 6.2. I love Robin Williams when he is funny and also when he is serious. He is the best of actors and his performance in Moscow on the Hudson, as a Russian musician, is awesome. Cuban-born Maria Conchita Alonso also gives an excellent performance as the Italian young lady who falls in love with Williams. My recommendation: don't wait any longer, rent Moscow on the Hudson. You'll cry, you'll laugh, and you'll appreciate freedom. No matter how risky freedom could be, it's the only opportunity to be yourself.
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Early Robin Williams comedy
faraaj-114 November 2006
I first saw this film when the Iron Curtain was still firmly in place and of course it was intriguing and funny. Seeing it again, I found it quite prescient if less intriguing and funny. Robin Williams plays a Muscovite who visits the Big Apple as part of a cultural troupe. On a visit to Bloomingdales, he suddenly decides to defect (a very spin is made on this term!). The rest of the film deals with his attempts to settle in the US.

Obviously given the great political changes in the USSR and Eastern Europe since the film was released, it has aged noticeably. However, it is not entirely without merit. The big plus is obviously Robin Williams. He was and is a great actor and seems to have put in great effort on his Russian and spoken English accents. Notice the way he says "Mister". The hot, hot, hot Maria Conchita Gonzalez (Miss Venezuela 1971) plays an Italian immigrant and the love interest. The overall bent of the film is liberal - African-American families are especially realistically and positively portrayed. The central lesson of the film is that the transition from a Communist to a Capitalist mentality is not easy and the adjustment can bring great joy and sorrow. That is a very valid lesson in the largest context of the later collapse of the USSR and the painful transition ex-Soviet states are still going through.
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An Eighties-style take on American freedom's superiority to totalitarianism
flesch-314 October 2006
Moscow on the Hudson is a fabulous example of a pretty-good movie chock full of 1980s artifacts like Jordache jeans, feathered hair-dos and Afro Sheen, that is often surprisingly interesting, sensitive and even occasionally profound -- especially on the level of the victory of the individual soul over totalitarianism, and the defense of American capitalism against Marxism.

This film brings back a flood of cultural memories of the Eighties, the decade immediately preceding the collapse of the Soviet Union, a time in the United States when our political and cultural self-esteem matched our economic prosperity. It doesn't hurt that this movie stars a young bearded Robin Williams with heart (and Russian soul!) and a really cute and occasionally nude young Maria Conchita Alonso (a real-life Venezuelan immigrant) full of Italian passion and an ambitious independent spirit.

Only in the early 1980s could blue jeans from Bloomies, velvety white toilet paper, supermarket coffee, studio apartments, hot-dog stands, cab-driving jobs, and U.S. citizenship ceremonies be portrayed as symbols -- indeed even weapons -- of democratic capitalism in a world still governed "from Stettin on the Baltic to Varna on the Black Sea" by the totalitarian evil against which President Ronald Reagan called a crusade two years earlier in his famous 1982 Evil Empire speech to the House of Commons.

The political content of the movie is startlingly black-and-white by today's standards of multiculturalism and moral relativism when many academics defend dictatorships' "sovereign right" to exist, and so the offhand manner with which at every turn the film's writers Paul Mazursky and Leon Capetanos deliver praise to political liberty, capitalism and America's unique cultural acceptance of immigrants dedicated to the pursuit of happiness is remarkable. While the way in which their praises are conveyed may from time-to-time seem a little cheesy, sentimental or dated, their profound significance is not diminished.

Exactly because capitalism is an economic system as well as a social system, Robin William's character is portrayed as a Russian seeking a remedy for his literal physical hunger and basic financial requirements of life that socialism fails to satisfy. His Russian friend, played wonderfully by Elya Baskin, suffers from socialism's other often dramatized evil -- its humiliating and paralyzing effect on an individual's creative mind and psychology. Perhaps it is precisely because the film's focus is on Williams' character that Moscow on the Hudson at times comes off as exhibiting the over-the-top 1980s commercialism that made it popular then and a little startling in today's Greener age.

Russophiles can get a kick out of some of the Russia scenes. Highlights include the drab Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoi Boulevard including full-figured women in polyester; sour old babushkas enforcing their place in line; and shoe vendors pushing the wrong sizes. They might also find some treatment of Soviet atrocities like sending war protesters to mental institutions, or neighbors reporting dissidents to the KGB a bit trite, but not inaccurate. Such horrors are no less relevant in Putin's Russia of today (October 2006), where the most recent contract killing of independent politicians, businessmen and intellectuals is journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

While I've focused on the political content, this movie is not primarily a political piece, but a love story; and not primarily a love story, but a romance of personal initiative -- of immigrants who choose to reject the oppressive circumstances they left behind and to seize the chance to pursue their material survival and eventually, individual happiness. The aims of the film are high, maybe even too high at times for this light film to be able to achieve fully; but it is definitely touching and fairly deals with the array of issues every immigrant faces on a variety of levels. I personally found the love relationship between Williams and Alonso to be touchingly realistic at times; and the individualistic focus of this film to be refreshing, as well as a shocking reminder of how inappropriately self-conscious the American media has become in publicly asserting the universal truth and appeal of its core principles: freedom and capitalism.
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Robin Williams: Talented (And Strange)
ccthemovieman-113 April 2007
Robin Williams became famous, I think, for his stand-up comedy, like his idol Jonathan Winters, but do you realize how many movies this guy has made over the years? He's really become quite a film star and is especially good playing against-type as a criminal or simply as a wacko (see "One Hour Photo?")

Anway, this was an early Robin Williams film in which he plays a Russian musician defecting to the United States. He ("Vladamir Ivanoff") first hides out in a big store in New York City before being taken in as an immigrant by a black guy (can you say PC?) Williams does an outstanding job speaking Russian, by the way, as opposed to most English-speaking actors.

There really isn't much of a plot here, just slices of life, if you will, some of it with the usual Liberal promiscuous (i.e. "I'm a liberated woman and if I stay the night, don't misinterpret that I want to get involved with you," the Italian tells the Russian. I can think of a few more accurate descriptions that the word "liberated.")

All in all, despite the premise and talents of Williams, this was only so-so. It kind of runs out of steam halfway through and it's hard to maintain interest in the final 40 percent of it. Actually, I like Williams better when he plays more serious roles like this although I'm not sure if he himself was ready to play it straight this early in his career. He's just too tempted in this film to produce comedy. He's a talented and very strange guy; this film reflects that.
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Strange And Wonderful
slokes8 April 2011
"Moscow On The Hudson" is a 1980s version of "The Wizard Of Oz." If you are an American watching it, there is no place like home.

Vladimir Ivanoff (Robin Williams) is a saxophonist with a Russian circus in the days of the bad old Soviet Union. Tired of waiting in line for toilet paper and bribing a snooping KGB agent (Saveli Kramarov) with shoes that won't fit him anyway, Vlad has a catharsis somewhere between Estee Lauder and Pierre Cardin in a Manhattan Bloomie's and decides to defect. America means freedom, but will it mean happiness, too?

"Have you ever felt like just not talking?" asks Vlad's new girlfriend Lucia (Maria Conchita Alonso).

"In Russia that's permanent way of life," answers Vlad.

"Moscow On The Hudson" is another of those superlative Paul Mazursky films that was a hit in its day and has been ignored since. Mazursky's films play off the contrast between the fantastic and everyday reality. The early scenes, of Vlad in Moscow, feature a chilly, brittle environment of little humor, with Williams scoring points not for being a cut-up but for being so muted and beaten-down. It's so gray it feels at times like a Bergman film, with welcome clownish notes struck not by Williams but Elya Baskin as his friend whose dream becomes Vlad's reality.

Then we get the trip to New York, a wondrous place where "you can do anything in this country if you want" but "everybody I meet is from somewhere else." A suddenly vibrant color scheme is married to a sometimes goofy sense of humor, yet a sense of menace and despair hangs over all. There are goofy scenes, moments of humor that don't quite work, yet Williams' performance remains balanced and straightforwardly character-driven throughout. No shtick here.

Most of the time, the film is too busy celebrating the idea of America as the land of immigrants. Mazursky isn't making "Yankee Doodle Dandy" here. He may be celebrating the United States, but not blindly. Our first shot of New York is of Abraham Lincoln, on a billboard wearing over-sized earphones with the legend: "Not all stereophones are created equal." Not all people, either. The black family who adopts Vlad early on makes do with a breakfast of Cocoa Puffs and no work in sight.

But Mazursky keeps things merry, with an eye toward opportunity and strength through diversity. Even when he leans too far in search of a shot, it still brings a chill, like when group of immigrants recite their oath of American allegiance or an old Asian guy lifts a sparkler up to the Empire State Building in celebration of the Fourth of July.

It was easy to love America in films of the 1940s and 1950s, but by 1984 you needed to work a little harder at it. "Moscow On The Hudson" doesn't soft-soap Vladimir's struggle, or sell it as a political act ("I'm not political" are the first words out of his mouth after his defection is made clear). But it celebrates the idea of America with a vibrancy and courage few films have shown since, and more interestingly, does so from what Roger Ebert noted was a liberal point of view. Liberal, but with a strong capitalist touch, back in the day when the two ideas were still compatible.

Maybe they still are. You can still watch this on, can't you?
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Good Concept Falls A Bit Short
sddavis6330 December 2001
I found that I had to think a bit about this movie to really begin to appreciate it. The initial response I had was to treat it as a mildly amusing comedy revolving around an eclectic set of characters that didn't really seem to have much of a point in the end. But there's more going on here than meets the eye at first. The whole movie revolves around the concept of freedom, and how freedom is defined. Produced at the height of the Cold War, I took from this movie a statement that freedom is about much more than a political system.

The first part of the movie deals with Vladimir Ivanoff's (Robin Williams) life in the Soviet Union. Protesters are arrested, Ivanoff is threatened by the KGB for no reason other than that he has an eccentric grandfather and people line up for blocks to buy toilet paper or shoes that don't fit. From what I've read, that's probably an accurate description of life in the USSR. But it isn't as bleak as it seems. Ivanoff has a family he loves, a girlfriend who loves him and wants to get married, and he can pursue his passion of saxophone playing with the Circus. Most important - this guy doesn't want to defect, and he tries to convince his best friend Anatoly (Elya Baskin) not to defect either, when the Circus visits New York City.

The second part of the movie is set in New York. On the spur of the moment, Vladimir defects - at Bloomingdale's. He hadn't planned to. It just happened. Asked by an FBI agent why he was defecting, he answered simply "freedom." And now we begin to learn about freedom. Vladimir tries to make connections. His best friend becomes a black store security guard named Lionel (Cleavant Derricks). Lionel's family parallels Vladimir's (right down to the eccentric grandfather), but it isn't Vladimir's family. Lucia (Maria Conchita Alonso) becomes Vladimir's love interest, but she doesn't want to commit. He can't even play the sax. He waits tables, drives a taxi, becomes a street hawker - all ultimately unsatisfying. For me the most poignant part of the film comes in a coffee shop, in a discussion among the various immigrants. They misquote the Declaration of Independence, and say that the "inalienable rights" of human beings are "life, liberty and happiness." But Thomas Jefferson didn't say that. He said "the pursuit of happiness." Here is where I really began to see the film as a sort of satire about freedom. To be politically free without having one's basic human needs met is ultimately not freedom.

It's an interesting statement. Unfortunately, the movie itself is not that interesting. That's the basic problem. It has the potential to be powerful, but just doesn't rise to that potential. Why? Too much emphasis was put on the immigrant nature of New York City, for one thing. That became - to me - something of a running joke, and I started wondering what the next accent would be rather than following the story. For a movie that tries to make a powerful statement (and a gutsy one, given the political climate of the time) it just came across as too "light" - the sort of movie that you feel you could miss twenty minutes of and step right back into without trouble. The nude scene with Maria Conchita Alonso in the bathtub with Robin Williams (Williams hands roving all over her body) also struck me as in bad taste and exploitative - totally unnecessary to the story.

Anyway, not bad. Once I took the time to think about it I decided to move it up a couple of notches in my estimation. 6/10. Unfortunately, it could have been so much better.
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Another slice of bittersweet melancholia from Paul Mazursky...
moonspinner5510 December 2005
Robin Williams is excellent as a Russian circus performer in New York City with his troupe for the first time, deciding to defect and become a U.S. citizen. After an appropriately dark, though somewhat heavy-handed opening, this comedy-drama from director Paul Mazursky suddenly finds its niche and seldom wavers. It may appear from the early parts of the picture that Williams is giving yet another of his overly-colorful, cartoonish performances, but he too gets into the groove of this project and fleshes out this charming, confounding, complicated man. Maria Conchita Alonso is wonderful as the working girl who falls for Williams (they have terrific chemistry, and Alonso has never been better). A fuzzy, friendly, thoughtful film, a bit too long but occasionally sublime. *** from ****
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euroman19703 August 2004
MOVIE PLOT: The year is 1984, the place is Soviet Union. Vladimir Ivanoff (played by Robin Williams) is a typical Russian citizen, working in the Moscow circus playing his saxophone. He has come to terms with his situation and despair. He lives with his family in a 2 room flat. Moscow circus is preparing to go to New York for the first time to perform. A circus clown who is unhappy with his life in Russia confides in Vladimir of his intention to defect when they go to New York. After giving the performance in New York, the circus is headed to Bloomingdales department store as their last stop before departing back to Moscow. However, it is Vladimir who declares of his defection. With the help of local authorities and mall security, he is able to remain in New York. As Vladimir tries to make it in New York, he is constantly haunted by his decision. Did he make a right choice by leaving his native land, was the freedom he searched worth everything he sacrificed?

CONCLUSION: Very Entertaining Film. A must have DVD for your collection. Robin William's gives one of his best performances.
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A Loving Look at the Immigrant Experience
gws-225 August 2001
"Moscow on the Hudson" is a funny, sad, and loving look at the experience of a Russian immigrant to New York in the '80s. Robin Williams' performance as the Russian immigrant is outstanding and the writing is excellent. Further, the New York City settings in the '80s are even more fun to see today than they were at the time the movie was released. The only weak link was Maria Conchita Alonso as Williams' girl friend. She was beautiful and charismatic but could not act a lick. Nevertheless, this one weakness does not do much harm to a movie that is filled with fine performances by everyone else, excellent writing, and fine photography. Highly recommended. 8 out of 10.
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Great American Story
Schlockmeister27 May 2001
This movie is the story of a Russian immigrant to America. We can all relate to it in that we all have had dreams and then lived them only to discover that our dream may not have been all it was cracked up to be. The movie is all Robin Williams, it is an excellent showplace for his many talents. He is very much like Charlie Chaplin and Red Skelton in that they can be very funny and also very sad, often at the same time. The movie is set in New York City, but everyone is from somewhere else in the world, all trying to make a new life there. Williams' character is very multi-level and rich. He is not merely a clown, you really do get under his skin and understand his motives. The movie can strike some as sad in that Robin's character has a deep sense of melancholy about him, from his days as an unhappy Russian musician to his days as a "free" american. We sense his deep sadness behind the laughs. Recommended if you are a fan of Robin Williams or just need a pickup. This would make a good Fourth Of July tradition movie to watch.
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Underrated; good plus; I'm curious why it was rated "low"
seajoe-15 August 2002
OK, this is not the greatest movie. Doesn't probably belong in the top 250 movies ever, etc., but it's really quite good.

Paul Mazursky (sp?) is after all a very gifted and experienced moviemaker. The film's technicals are generally very good, therefore.

The biggest problem with the film is that it has too much sentimentality, that is, too much feeling that seems artificial or even fake (mawkish is a good though not often used word - it comes from the same root it seems as maggot! and denotes something that makes one nauseous!). I don't want to exaggerate negatively here. I said first that the movie is quite good and I mean it. But it does have problems with one of its main tendencies: its (main?) thrust, to show that the "freedom life" is good (and specifically in the USA). (BTW, I don't think it can be accused of excessive AmericaFirstNess on that score).

The acting is generally good to excellent, but Robin Williams who is usually good has some of his usual problems showing emotion. (He contributes a lot to the sentimentality problems.) Don't know why some people knocked Maria Conchita Alonso who I thought was real good (she's notably good at showing genuineness, in contrast to RW!) And many of the smaller parts are excellently done! Much of the movie's Soviet Russia sections are very good in *all* moviemaking respects. I note that several Russians have pointed this out.

I guess the thing gets down to the question of whether it's possible to make a great Something that's mostly about how good Freedom in the USA is. I'm not knocking the United States (although I'm pretty sure quite a few people in these post 9/11 times will, defensively, think I'm am, BUT I believe it is very difficult to make anything in art that's real positive about the US (or to argue strongly in favor of the USA) when most all of what you're showing or talking about is freedom: the US is a very green (ie, young) country that is still often juvenile, especially in "feeling its oats" too much. We didn't invent freedom or liberty and we aren't worlds better than anyone else at "doing" it, though we have been so insular through most of our history that too many of us think we are. And I'm surprised that so much of this pretty unknowing attitude comes through in a Paul Mazursky movie.
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canuck-36 September 2000
Robin Williams is excellent in this movie and it is a pity the material is not enough of a match for him. This may work if you buy into the "U-S-A! Number One!" mentality but story wise nothing much happens. Quite a shame really since the movie is really trying to say something, and says it sincerely. It just doesn't pack enough emotional punch.
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Moronic Hollywood propaganda
gbryl17 August 2014
Just found out about this movie and watched it as a result of the untimely death of Robbin Williams.

I lived in the Soviet Union until I was 23, and I don't understand those reviewers saying that this movie accurately portrays life in the SU.

First, the bus is totally un-SU, has those metal loops hanging from the horizontal metal bar handles, a typical American bus, not a Soviet bus, which is immediately obvious to the naked eye. This is minor, though.

Nest, there are the toilet paper line scenes, which are totally lame. We would use napkins or newspaper as toilet paper in SU, but we didn't have the long lines do buy toilet paper as the movie claims to project.

Then there's a reference to Russian women having a mustache, which is totally ridiculous. Another piece of retarded cold-war American propaganda. Anyone who's been to the SU or Russia knows that Russian women are 10, 20, no 100 times hotter than their American counterparts (over 50% of which are statistically obese to say the least). Not to mention American women's attitude that has resulted in American men being the #1 men by country to marry foreign women. Enough said.

In general, each country, the SU and the US, had positives and negatives about living there. But life in the SU was superior after all (I left SU only after it broke up in 1991). People in the SU had far more of the one precious resource that Americans could only dream of having (and still do): TIME. People in the SU had a roof over their head, food, and other basic necessities of life, while at the same time having a ton of free time, including time to pursue their dreams and hobbies. That is why the arts (ballet, literature, etc.) were so developed in the SU compared to the US: people actually had time on their hands to pursue those interests and hobbies. The US was, and still is, a bunch of debt slaves that live thinking how to make enough money to pay the next set of their bills, and have no time for real life.

Not to mention that American kids grew up (and do even more so now) inside, seeing nothing but virtual reality, playing computer games, etc., while we in the SU were free to play out in the street all day long without being worried about drugs, psychos, kidnappers, etc. At age 10, I could take a train to a different city to go to a market to buy parts for building a personal computer, for instance. Good luck doing that in the U.S. which doesn't even have a transportation system to this day. And I never heard about drugs until the SU broke up.

Ultimately, no society is perfect, but a good part of this movie is just a bunch of cheap propaganda. Of course, some people would defect from the SU, but so did people from the States (look up Dean Reed, for instance).

I liked the line "I have not had a job for 8 years. Welcome to the USA!" Sounds like things have not progressed much in the USA since 1984 when this movie was made....

Anyway, travel the world, people, and draw your own conclusions before you buy the bullsh!t that your government feeds you. Goes the same for both Russia and the U.S., as well as any other country... If you think of watching this flick, opt for Goodwill Hunting instead, even if it would be a re-run for you.
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"The Terminal" meets "Stroszek"
tieman6421 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
In the early 80s there were many pro-American/anti-Soviet movies like "Moscow on the Hudson". President Ronald Reagan reheated the Cold War in his 1982 "Evil Empire" speech and suddenly free capitalism and collective communism waged war once again on cinema screens.

Unsurprisingly, "Hudson" begins in Russia, director Paul Mazursky treating us to a twenty minute sequence which stresses that the great socialist paradise is really a nightmarish hellhole. Cold and harsh, Russians wait hours in line for toilet paper, are constantly under surveillance and always fearful. Robin Williams, who plays a member of a Russian travelling circus on tour in the US, thus decides to defect, literally seduced by the capitalist decadence of a Bloomingdale's department store.

From here on virtually every character in the film is an ethnic minority or immigrant, Mazursky stressing that in America everyone is from somewhere else. Heck, even the immigration officers are immigrants, every creed and race given the chance to make something of themselves.

Mazursky then rolls out the cultural icons. Blue jeans, coffee mugs, soft toilet paper, department stores, yellow cabs, hot dog stands, baseball games, limousines etc are celebrated and dished out like ideological weapons, symbols of cultural superiority. Robin Williams himself finds it easy to make friends and overcome obstacles in this fantasy word. Black men, Italians, Greeks and Latinos cheerfully assist him along the way and he has no trouble jumping from one job to the next. The film pauses at times to say that crime, racism and greed are rampant in America, and takes aim at the cavalier attitude most American's have towards their freedom, but for the most part, the way Williams smoothly assimilates into American life is a bit too unbelievable. There are no struggles, no racial tensions, everything is a bit too easy.

And yet, I think Mazursky does try to insert a bittersweet, almost subversive tone to the film. Williams remains an anonymous bum at the end of the film, a mere street musician, and his closest friend, an African American, loses his job and kids. America may be the land of opportunity, but only for those it doesn't crush.

7.9/10 – Quirky, despite its black and white politics. Worth one viewing.
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Funny and sad look at the last days of the can do American spirit
jeremy35 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This movie reminds me of how much things have changed in the last 25 years. This movie was still in the days when there was the naive and simple belief that America could be a "great place". Robin Williams brilliantly portrays the Russian circus musician who ends up defecting. Williams plays Alexander with great sensitivity and humor. Russia is portrayed almost as it was. America is not perfect. The black store security guard he meets has a family that hasn't found work in years. Alexander has to work really hard to make a new life for himself. Still, the movie had the Capra-esquire belief that a new immigrant can find happiness in America. I am sad to say that those days are gone. The idea that he and his girlfriend can work it out, and that Alexander can find success in life, has been replaced by "political correctness". Movies like Moscow On The Hudson remind us that the naive and simple days weren't really so bad. We definitely need to recapture that spirit again nowadays.
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why can´t Robin Williams do these kinds of movies more often ?
Cherubin27 November 2001
There are things you can hold against "Moscow on the Hudson". It is quiet and episodic rather than exciting in any way. Vladimir, the Russian main character is completely different from any Russian I ever actually met (although it can work since all individuals are different). Convinced Marxists will hate its all too truthful criticism of communism. The 2 sex scenes break up the movie´s otherwise family friendly tone. However, in spite of these details, which can be both pluses and minuses depending on one´s point of view, "Moscow on the Hudson" is a great movie - possibly even the best movie ever made about the immigrant experience. ( I should know because I was an immigrant to the U.S. myself.) It is perhaps even mislabled as a comedy since its dramatic aspects outweigh its comedic ones. Its essential point seems to be that if you have a positive attitude, you can actually connect with the strange people in a strange land. However, its other major point is that no matter how well you adapt, the home where your roots are is still your home and you will miss it no matter how awful life there was. And if you are like Vladimir, you will also have to deal with an unstable mix of odd jobs, friends who never stay in one place too long, your new country´s street scum, arrogant morons from your motherland, and a significant other who will not fully commit to you. However, Vladimir realizes that this is not too high a price to pay for freedom to speak your mind, travel, and really shop around at Bloomingdale´s. He also winds up appreciating America´s wealth of many different cultures and ethnic backgrounds, although the makers of this film were good enough to not bang the viewer over the head with this point. Rather, they present it as irreverently and matter of factly as Jim Jarmusch does in his best work. This all amounts to a movie that is very human (or humane) in a gentle way and rather realistic in its depiction of the less extreme varieties of human nature. Its low key approach is much better for expressing its points than the loads of melodrama which these kinds of movies usually have. The jazz music soundtrack is great too. Basically, if you´re sick of movies which are overblown and commercial, then you will especially appreciate this little gem.
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The Late/Great Robin Williams Soars in this Strange & Wonderful Film!
namashi_110 January 2017
Written, Produced & Directed by The Late/Great Paul Mazursky, 'Moscow on the Hudson' is a strange & wonderful, where our beloved Robin Williams soars in the title role. This performance only makes his loss all the more worse. What an actor & what a performance!

'Moscow on the Hudson' Synopsis: When a Russian musician defects in Bloomingdale's department store in New York, he finds adjusting to American life more difficult than he imagined.

'Moscow on the Hudson' is about a man seeking freedom. We see the protagonist Vladimir Ivanov (Williams, of course) struggle initially in Moscow & later take the leap of faith in the US, to only realize that freedom is the best thing that can happen to anyone. His journey is real, as its sad & happy, real & affecting, as it progresses.

And Williams owns the part. He speaks Russian as if it was his first language since birth & portrays a man torn between family & freedom. Williams is extraordinary & this is a performance, that definitely deserves to be watched again. A special mention for the delightful María Conchita Alonso, who enacts Williams' lady-love to perfection.

Mazursky's Writing is excellent & his Direction, even better. 'Moscow on the Hudson' is a winner in almost every way. Strongly Recommended!
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What a Country
SnoopyStyle18 July 2016
Vladimir Ivanoff (Robin Williams) is a musician in the Moscow Circus. He lives with his grandfather and family. His girlfriend is looking to get married. The Soviet Union is a world of line-ups, black markets, and stagnate police state. His best friend clown Anatoly Cherkasov tells him that he's defeating during their upcoming New York performance. The KGB is monitoring them closely and Vladimir is supposed to be watching over Anatoly. In New York, Anatoly loses his nerves but Vladimir suddenly decides to defect. In Bloomingdale's, he's hiding under sales clerk Lucia Lombardo (María Conchita Alonso)'s skirt and helped by security guard Lionel Witherspoon (Cleavant Derricks). He's a fish out of water and tries to adjust to his new world.

Robin Williams delivers a performance of both drama and comedy in equal parts. It is a really human story. The defection in Bloomingdale's is fun and surprising touching. It's a solid and fun immigrant story. It's also a little long for a comedy. There are some slower spots in the middle. It would be better for Vladimir to play his sax sooner and get to his failure quicker. This is a really fine complete performance from Robin.
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