Sep 24 2008

Review: Who Is Cletis Tout?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

I’ve noticed a pattern with Christian Slater movies: they’re sort of strange and not what I’m expecting, but they still entertain me, almost against my will.  I enjoyed this movie, but it’s hard to explain why, because I can come up with a long list of problems it has.

First of all, it’s a cute movie—far too cute at times.  It’s got that self-aware, indie-movie, quirky-characters thing going on that became way too popular after Pulp Fiction.  (Hired gun-men sit around diners talking about what men they’d have sex with if they were stranded in the woods?  Really?)  RuPaul might have been all the rage back when this was made, but now he just looks bizarre.  Jason Lee, in look-at-me-I’m-a-man drag on My Name Is Earl, made a more convincing woman; but this movie seems to think the audience will love every second of RuPaul’s act.  (Luckily he’s only on screen a couple times.)  Tim Allen’s character even gets Slater to do his Jack Nicholson voice, in case we hadn’t heard that one before.

I don’t think anything in the movie ever surprised me, except not recognizing Dreyfus at first.  The story is like a fairy tale: you know the prince is going to win in the end and find the treasure and live happily ever after with the princess, so if it’s done well, it’s fun to watch them get there.  I groaned at some of the clichés, like Allen not just being a good shot, but hitting every target right between the eyes. Or the old standby where the guy thinks the girl has left town never to be found again—oops, there she is!  As a mystery or adventure story, it’s nothing special, but as a fairy tale romance with the twist that most of the characters are crooks, it works well enough for me to recommend it lightly.

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