Since it seems as though the movie review podcast thing my friends and I were supposed to make every month will never happen again, I figured I’d just post my own thoughts on the movies we watch, kind of like what this blog was originally intended for. This month we watched True Romance starring Patricia Arquette and Christian Slater, directed by Tony Scott, and written by Quentin Tarantino.
The basic plot of the movie is a guy who works at comic book shop and is super into kung-fu movies (probably the closest Tarantino has come to writing a character based on himself) meets up with a manic pixie dreamgirl prostitute. Naturally, they immediately fall in love and get married the next day. Our hero is then convinced by his alter-ego, Elvis Presley, to go kill his new wife’s pimp played by Gary Oldman. In the process he steals a suitcase full of cocaine thinking it contains his wife’s belongings. I’m still not certain how makes the connection between “random suitcase” and “my wife’s stuff”, but whatever. When he gets home he tells his wife what he did, and because she’s a manic pixie dreamgirl she thinks it’s the most romantic thing ever. At this point two things became apparent: Firstly, like most Tarantino scripts, the plot and characters aren’t all that important compared to dialogue and copious amounts of blood (it has been said that the shallowness of Tarantino’s characters is profound). Secondly, that the reactions of one of my friends to the film will be just as entertaining as the movie itself. Even though I’m fairly certain this scene, and indeed much of the film, is meant to be ridiculous and played for laughs, she just couldn’t get over the absurdity and pretty much lost her shit. The movie doesn’t get much saner from there as the newlyweds flee from the mob to Los Angeles, so we shared many more laughs as her expense. And in case you wanted to know, her one word review for the film is "ridiculous".
As I said earlier, the plot and characters don’t really matter in the end, and it doesn’t take much to figure out the lovers will live happily ever after. I guess I don’t have too much of a problem with that since I have come to expect it from Tarantino, but that being said I found the ending to be a bit too sappy and silly for my tastes. Where the movie really shines is in the dialogue which should also come as no surprise. There are plenty of fun and hilarious conversations throughout the movie on various subjects ranging from Sonny Chiba to oral sex. My favorites tended to involve Elliot (Bronson Pinchot), a cowardly lickspittle who works for a major Hollywood producer. Brad Pitt also makes a memorable appearance as the perpetually stoned roommate of Christian Slater’s friend. The second aspect common to all of Tarantino’s work is the exaggerated violence, and True Romance certainly delivers in that regard. From Samuel L. Jackson’s cameo short-lived cameo appearance to the final showdown there is more than enough blood to satisfy all of your sadistic needs. Perhaps the most memorable of these scenes has a young James Gandolfini (you may know him as Tony Soprano) slowly and gleefully beating/torturing manic pixie dreamgirl. This scene probably packs the most raw emotional punch out of any in the movie. It is also worth noting two strange scenes where that aren’t particularly bloody, but still contain violent tensions. The first involves a mob boss played by Christopher Walken interrogating the protagonists’ dad played by Dennis Hopper. When you get these two guys in a room you know its going to be good, but the whole story of Sicilian genetics that dominates the conversation… was a tad bizarre, but was there because Tarantino, that’s why. The second is even stranger and takes place in an elevator as Christian Slater goes apeshit for no sane reason (there is an insane reason I suppose). I don’t really have much commentary on this scene, but I have noticed a trend in movies where when you get one or more characters in an elevator, then some weird shit is about to go down.
In conclusion this movie was pretty over-the-top, but still quite enjoyable. I don’t think it’s one of Tarantino’s best, but if you’re a fan then this is definitely a must-see. If you’re looking for something deeper and more meaningful then I’d go for Inglorious Basterds. Also, for best results watch with a friend who has lived a sheltered life.
Bonus points to whoever posts a one word review to this film.