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Guarding Tess
Guarding Tess
Actors: Shirley MacLaine, Nicolas Cage, Austin Pendleton, Edward Albert, James Rebhorn
Director: Hugh Wilson
Genres: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Drama
PG-13     1998     1hr 36min

A warm, funny look at life outside the White House, about a cantankerous former First Lady and the unwilling secret service agent assigned to her detail. Tempers and humor run high as these adversaries go head to head and ...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Shirley MacLaine, Nicolas Cage, Austin Pendleton, Edward Albert, James Rebhorn
Director: Hugh Wilson
Creators: Brian J. Reynolds, Hugh Wilson, Sidney Levin, Jonathan Filley, Nancy Graham Tanen, Ned Tanen, Peter Torokvei
Genres: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Nicolas Cage, Comedy, Drama
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 04/15/1998
Original Release Date: 03/11/1994
Theatrical Release Date: 03/11/1994
Release Year: 1998
Run Time: 1hr 36min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 2
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Member Movie Reviews

John L.
Reviewed on 8/5/2015...
Great Movie ! A role that shows that Nicholas Cage really can do it all , even comedy. I laughed more in this film than I did in other movies that were classified as a straight up comedy ! Well worth the buy !
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Michelle S. from ELMA, NY
Reviewed on 3/9/2015...
LOVE this movie!! One of my all time favorites. Shirley and Nick give stellar performances. Can watch it over and over.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Raydene B. (raybo) from SILVER CITY, NM
Reviewed on 8/6/2010...
This DVD was ordered to replace a VHS copy that we have been watching for years whenever we needed a good laugh or a good cry. It's well done and has everything - the cranky old lady who bosses everybody around, the up-tight secret service guy who just wants to get back to the "real" action, and of course the conspirators who can't get it right and her son, the money grubbing jerk, ....
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Coni M. (femilr)
Reviewed on 3/12/2010...
Always worth watching again and again.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

A pleasant surprise
John K. Reed | Harrisburg, PA United States | 06/20/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I really can't even remember what it was that I expected when I first saw ads for Guarding Tess. I definitely remember that it wasn't much. This film has so much heart and character that its impossible to resist.Shirley McLaine (Tess Carlisle) is the former first lady of a now deceased president. Nicholas Cage (Doug Chesnik) is the head secret service agent assigned to 'guard' the former first lady. Tess is a rather crochety seemingly self absorbed old girl and agent Chesnik is a by the book G-man.While Tess does her level best to break all the rules and drive Doug crazy, Doug yearns to be on a 'real' assignment. He hates the non structured nature of guarding someone like Tess.What each of them realizes along the way is how much they care for one another and how much they bring to the others life.And along the way we are introduced to an ecclectic group of characters who will endear themselves to your heart and have you chuckling at many of their antics.You'll laugh, cry and feel for all the characters in this gem of a film.So why only 4 stars then. Because despite its genuine warmth and humor I found the story to be a bit contrived and somewhat unbelievable.All that notwithstanding it shouldn't be missed."
Unexpected gem...
Doug DeBolt | Marietta, GA USA | 04/15/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"When "Guarding Tess" was released eight years ago, I ended up watching it in the theater because I was bored and because it looked a little more promising than the rest of the pack. That thought proved to be an understatement. To date, I have seen this movie at least eight times, and I tend to enjoy it more with each viewing. Nicholas Cage is perfect as the disgruntled Secret Service agent who feels he has been banished to his current duty -- namely, doting on a cantankerous former First Lady, played to the hilt by Shirley MacLaine. "Guarding Tess" is alternately funny and moving, and even includes a bit of a mystery for Cage to solve. Far more than a one-dimensional film, "Guarding Tess" is satisfying for so many reasons -- the witty script, the fine performances, the deft direction, and the mostly even pacing, to name a few. While you can catch this on a regular basis on TBS (which has made the movie one of its most reliable staples), "Guarding Tess" is definitely worth owning for more frequent viewing."
A delightful folie-a-deux between a guard and his First Lady
Erin O'Brien | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 08/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Guarding Tess" opens with a dapper and cheery Doug Chesnick (Nicholas Cage) fleeing a three-year stint as Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, during which he was responsible for guarding a recently-widowed former First Lady (Shirley MacLaine) in her mansion in rural Ohio.It's not only ditching the rusticity that puts a spring in Chesnick's step, but the opportunity to flee his employer, the authoritarian, aristocratic former First Lady, who has zeroed in on Chesnick while largely ignoring the rest of her staff. Her specialty, one quickly learns, is what the armed forces call the "psy-op" or, more simply, psychological warfare.It is part of Tess Carlisle's modus operandi to let Chesnick believe that he is finally free, and waste to his time reporting to Washington for a new assignment. Chesnick yearns to join the elite who guard the President. Instead, in D.C., Chesnick is told that Carlisle already has called the President to request that Chesnick be reassigned to another three-year "tour", a tour of a truly martial sort. The current President was the late President Carlisle's Veep, which permits Tess to continue to brusquely address him as the underling he always was to her. Tess's wish is the new President's command, not least because it was her private say that got him the winning Carlisle ticket.In a fury, Chesnick is forced to return to Ohio. A kind of dance of death begins as Tess tries to break the spirit of the Special Agent in Charge, a title she cannot resist deconstructing, while Chesnick's fury mounts and he becomes all the more fanatical about adhering to the strictest (and most deadening) regulations of the Secret Service. It is quickly apparent that Tess Carlisle is vastly too clever and even (almost secretly) high-minded to have summoned Chesnick as a dimwitted mouse to bat around, yet she sincerely loathes his fastidiousness about seatments in cars and the tedium of being followed and observed 24-7. There is no denying the emotional S&M the Tess and Chesnick mete out, but it is curiously bilateral. For reasons unexplained for much of the film, Tess cannot quite afford to have Chesnick quit (or actually quit, more precisely). The power struggles that break out over her attempted use of agents as golf caddies and her recurring jailbreaks with a fearful chauffeur are as uproarious as they are petty. When the humiliated Chesnick is forced "by regulation" to alert the local sheriff, for example, that Tess Carlisle and her driver have lost their detail yet again, the sheriff puts the brokenly dignified agent on speakerphone. The deputies snigger en masse when the Sheriff intones mockingly: "That Mrs. Carlisle sure is slippery...for a senior citizen and all." Formal as always, Chesnick does not permit himself so much as a note of sarcasm in his response. He communicates in rare tics and elaborate, furious pronunciations of basic instructions, but at no time does he debase his office.Sure enough, Chesnick quits over his inability, courtesy of the eccentric, tantrum-throwing Tess, to do his job "properly" (read: perfectly). And, sure enough, Mrs. Carlisle has the new President on her speed dial. The calls put through from the President, a snarling and barking Texan, are episodes of comic sublimity. Each time, Chesnick, like virtually anyone other than the formidable Mrs. Carlisle, freezes with terror when told via a sudden phone call to "hold for the President". The disembodied voice, emanating variously from the Oval Office and from Air Force One, is an uncanny, flawless mimicry of LBJ. Johnson's private threats, manipulations and vaunted coarseness are preserved in an inimitable Texan patois which melds obscenity, patriotism, blackmail and phoney good-ole-boy charm. The President is required, for example, to investigate Mrs. Carlisle's story that her agent "ripped up some flowers". Chesnick speaks carefully about the distinction between fact and fiction: it was only a single flower, and he merely snapped off the bud. Though the President is whipped by the retired Mrs. Carlisle, he is fully alert to the lunacy of how his time is being wasted. The solution? Fix it, Agent Chesnick, "or next time, you'll be guarding my dog, do you hear me son?"When we learn at last of the origin of Tess Carlisle's fixation on Agent Chesnick, it is suitably poignant and ennobling. Rather than trying to break him, as it first appears, she is "merely" trying to get him to break the rules. We see Tess at her bullying worst and then her impossibly gracious best, in two very rare encounters with "her" public.No less a figure than Barbara Bush is said to have told MacLaine that the film was a perfectly accurate rendition of the relationship between agent and protectee. It is very revealing that such a remark should have come from the Grand Dame, Mrs. Bush, who is usually described as being as vicious and petty in private as she is marvellously patrician in public.The gun Chesnick is required to place on a table outside Mrs. Chesnick's room must go off, by the fifth act, according to the rules of drama. It does, and Chesnick's attention to detail is finally rewarded. Rather than "some sick [sexual] thing" going on, as the President earlier, hilariously, suggests, there is a courtly love which unfolds between Tess and her devoted agent which gives a final unity to this first comic, then poignant story."