Robbins’ Hood

Running Time 90 minutes
Written and
directed by Henry Beam
Starring Tim Robbins, William Hurt, Bridget Moynahan, William Baldwin

Almost as an ironic companion piece, there’s an excellent new film called Noise, about the psychological impact and neurological damage that is being inflicted on the victimized population of inner cities by the interminable cacophony of ringing cell phones, blaring traffic horns, ambulance sirens, ghetto blasters and endless construction demolition. While Susan Sarandon, his other half and mother of his children, grabs the money in Speed Racer, Tim Robbins shows the dangers a movie like that can cause. In this low-budget movie with a message, he plays an ordinary Joe with a new baby who is desperate for a good night’s sleep. Traumatized and baggy-eyed from car alarms that go off so often in the middle of the night the cops don’t even pay attention anymore, he decides to take matters in his own hands—smashing car windows, flatting tires, cutting the wiring to disconnect the alarm signals, he calls himself “the Rectifier.” The mayor of New York (William Hurt) calls him a vigilante, but the public opinion polls turn him into a hero. The movie investigates the ways other battered New Yorkers cope (buying earplugs, closing their windows, turning up the AC) while the city does nothing to reduce noise pollution, but Mr. Robbins tries to right the wrongs by jotting down license plates, looking up offenders in the Department of Motor Vehicles and suing them. His wife (Bridget Moynahan) thinks since there’s nothing you can do about it, you might as well make the best of it, but Mr. Robbins is on a mission, spending so much time in court that he loses his job, as the short-tempered judges keep dismissing the cases and threatening him with jail time. The causes grow when he takes on power saws, jackhammers and police whistles. He moves to the country to escape, but the noise is not much better there, either. Think weed whackers and power mowers. Risking his career, his income and his marriage, he turns noise reduction into a calling—cutting battery cables, smashing broken apartment building intercom buzzers and collecting thousands of signatures to get his issues on the ballot of the next election. Thwarted by self-serving city officials right up to City Hall, the undaunted Mr. Robbins retaliates with the longest, loudest car alarms in town, making for some clever screenwriting and some very funny action sequences. Noise is a funny movie about a serious issue, delivered tongue in cheek but with real conviction. The superb cast, which includes Ms. Moynahan and William Baldwin, supports the always politically charged Mr. Robbins with sincerity of purpose, and writer-director Henry Beam superbly blends a unique comic vision with the real challenge of an overcrowded world where people with perfect hearing are becoming an endangered species. It’s a message worth listening to. What? Say that again. I can’t hear you.