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Moscow On The Hudson is a 1984 film starring Robin Williams. He plays Vladimir Ivanov, a saxophone player for the Moscow circus. Poor and miserable, he endures the long lines and the police breathing down his neck. His friend, Anatoly, lends him his apartment so Ivanov can be alone with his girlfriend. They will be performing in New York, and Anatoly wishes to defect. Ivanov is approached by the KGB, who wants him to rat out his friend.
During the visit to New York, however, it is Vladimir who ends up seeking asylum. In legal limbo, he can only find low-paying jobs, and has to stay with a family living in the slums. He must learn to cope in this strange land, what it holds in store for him, and whether or not he can achieve the American Dream.
This work contains examples of:
- American Dream: "We hold these truths to be self-evident..."
- An Immigrant's Tale
- Badass Grandpa: In Russia, Vladimir is a buffer between the KGB and his crazy grandfather, who has a dangerous habit of defiantly shouting anti-Soviet invectives out the window.
- Bang Bang BANG: Vladimir, shaken up after having being mugged, thinks he hears gunshots. It's Fourth Of July firecrackers.
- Big Applesauce
- Burger Fool: Vladimir's first American job is at McDonald's. ("Come back McSoon.")
- Cold War: "I defect!"
- Crazy Cultural Comparison
- Eagle Land: A perfect example of the "mixed" flavor.
Vladimir: It's a strange country.
Boris: Yes. Strange and wonderful.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Fake Nationality: In addition to Williams' obvious example, Cuban-Venezuelan actress María Conchita Alonso plays Vladimir's Italian girlfriend.
- Fan Service: Did Maria Conchita Alonso have to have a nude scene in the bathtub? Well, she didn't have to.
- Faux Fluency: Averted - Robin Williams learned conversational Russian (and also to play the saxophone) to do this role. It's then lampshaded as Vladimir (Williams) and Anatoly (Elya Baskin) practice their English:
Vladimir: Hello, Mister, may I buy lamb chop?
Anatoly: Sure thing, Mister.
Vladimir: Do you read Ernest Hemingway?
Anatoly: Every fucking day.
Vladimir: Kiss me, beautiful.
- Freedom From Choice: Vladimir, coming from a Communist country where consumer choice is limited, has a nervous breakdown in an American grocery store when he's confronted by an innumerable amount of different kinds of coffee.
- Funny Foreigner
- How We Got Here
- In Soviet Russia, Trope Mocks You: Trope Namer Yakov Smirnoff has a small part as a fellow Russian immigrant.
- It Got Worse: Living in the US has a steep learning curve for immigrants.
- Jurisdiction Friction: Played for laughs in the standoff between the KGB agent and the Bloomie's security guard:
Agent: I want to keep my comrade from making a big mistake.
Guard: I told you to back off! You're in my jurisdiction, which runs from Style Boutique to Personal Fragrances. So keep your hands off the man!
- Lzherusskie: Robin Williams isn't Russian. However, this trope is averted with most of the other Russian characters, which are played by the genuine article.
- Mistaken for Spies: "KGB?"...."No, G-A-Y."
- Newscaster Cameo: Connie Chung reports on Vladimir's defection at Bloomingdale's.
- Non-Ironic Clown: Anatoly. Bittersweet, though.
- Shirtless Scene
- Switch to English: During an early scene in Russia, two characters decide to practice their English by continuing their conversation in English.
- Vodka Drunkenski
- Wrong Side of the Tracks