Quick Hit: An off kilter, randomly entertaining but frequently strange movie.
I thought I knew about all of Tarantino’s films, but recently, a viewer of ours suggested several movies where he wasn’t the main director, but he was involved in some other way. One was Hero, which he produced. And then there is today’s film, True Romance, which Tarantino wrote. It’s splashed across with many of his now signature styles, but back when it was released in 1993, I completely understand why it underperformed and no one heard of it. There’s an obvious “finding yourself” vibe that is sprinkled throughout, as you know that Tarantino was attempting to do as he was breaking in after his splash hit Reservoir Dogs.
The flick follows Clarence Worley (Christian Slater), pop culture geek extradordinaire. Before nerds were cool, Clarence was a cool nerd. Hanging out in the comic book store he works in at midnight, watching a triple Kung Fu movie feature, and only eating hamburgers and drinking beer the whole film is just the start. He also drives a purple Cadillac at high speeds, has sex in a phone booth, and commits a brutal set of murders.
If that last one seems a bit off from the rest, it’s because it is. It’s just one mark of how this movie is so helter skelter, with the plot hurtling along like a purple Cadillac on the highway. A quick summary would be: boy meets call girl (Patricia Arquette), boy marries call girl the next day, boy kills call girl’s pimp (played by Gary Oldman, the chameleon of all actors), boy and call girl run off to Hollywood to sell pimp’s cocaine. I mean… wow. Did I mention that Elvis (played by Val Kilmer only in the background) is guiding Clarence’s actions?
As I’ve referred to, this movie is weird, but it is remarkably entertaining. I had no expectations going into this film, so it was pretty easy for me to be entertained. The acting is good throughout, particularly in a scene between Clarence’s father (Dennis Hopper) and a mob member (Christopher Walken). It starts off with the normal Tarantino banter and devolves into a great scene where both really flex their chops. Arquette is really fun and energetic, having a lot of mood swings, sometimes being annoying, but portraying the role of Alabama (that’s really her name) very well. Slater brings a raw energy to the role that you expect from Tarantino films, but considering they were still blazing that trail, was very impressive.
Is the plot a bit unhinged? Yes. It’s pretty much a nerdy boys dream come true. But what differentiates it from say, Weird Science, is the sheer amount of blood. There are some truly bloody scenes, and the finale of the is nothing short of spectacular. There are a ton of quotable lines, and there are more memorable characters that I didn’t even touch on (Brad Pitt is a stoner roommate of Clarence’s best friend). I can’t whole heartedly recommend this, but it’s good as a study of Tarantino’s career as a whole, and is rather entertaining. I’m giving it a solid “B”.
For more on this, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"