Haven’t seen this in 18 years, so I’d forgotten most of it, and didn’t realize it contains The Definitive Samuel L. Jackson Performance.
Shot by Tarantino buddy Robert Rodriguez’s cinematographer Guillermo Navarro – close-ups galore and terrific acting. Part of a mid-90’s cinematic Elmore Leonard craze, between Get Shorty and Out of Sight. Grier, Forster and Jackson got various awards and nominations. Only Forster made it to the oscars, though… jeez, it was an all-white year at the oscars except for a 4 Little Girls documentary nomination.
Keaton, the year after Multiplicity. De Niro shortly before he turned to self-mocking comedy in Analyze This and never looked back. Bridget Fonda apparently retired after 2002. Jackson would continue the 1970’s references with his Shaft remakquel. Chris Tucker’s Fifth Element costar Tiny Lister appears as Forster’s employee at the bail-bond place.
Unfortunately Pam Grier’s follow-ups don’t look so good: Chris Elliott comedy Snow Day, Fortress 2, Snoop Dogg’s Bones, Ghosts of Mars, and finally the career-killing Adventures of Pluto Nash. I assumed Jackie Brown was a comeback for her, but it looks like the movies she made the year before were better than any that came after: Mars Attacks, Escape From L.A. and Larry Cohen’s Original Gangstas.
What a cheap-ass movie. The fights are clumsy, the acting seems first-take, the overall look is made-for-TV and the audio always sounds like there’s a photocopier running nearby. It’s a fun time though, if you overlook the unpleasant bit where Foxy is drugged and raped by rednecks. At least she reserves her harshest revenge for these two guys – one gets his face torn off then they both get set on fire. Can’t you just picture a twelve-year-old Quentin Tarantino sitting alone in a broken-down movie theater burning this movie into his brain?
Foxy and “Michael”:
Pam Grier (who’d already starred in Coffy and a couple others) is in love with her undercover boyfriend “Michael” (Terry Carter of Battlestar Galactica), who is killed by drug-dealer enforcers the day he’s released from the hospital post-plastic-surgery, because Foxy’s own brother Link rats on him for quick cash.
Link in trouble:
The movie shows us repeatedly that Foxy is a total badass, and Pam Grier is up to the task, but Antonio Fargas (best known as “Huggy Bear” on Starsky & Hutch) as Link is the one actor with enough energy to transcend his low-rent surroundings. On the other end of the spectrum are white crime lords Kathryn Loder and Peter Brown (a teen delinquent in Kitten with a Whip) who at least seem to be having a good time delivering their awkwardly terrible performances. Foxy masquerades as a prostitute, a dumb broad and a revolutionary, and kills pretty much everybody.
Seems like an extremely low-effort movie, managing to coast by on charisma. So I’m not putting in much effort either – stealing the AV Club’s plot description:
Hanks plays the title character, a divorced Navy veteran and longtime employee of a Walmart-like chain who’s fired because he never went to college, thus can’t advance any further in the company. Rather than filing what seemingly should be an extremely lucrative wrongful-dismissal suit, Hanks follows the advice of the quirky next-door neighbors (Cedric The Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson) and enrolls in a community college. There, he strikes up a friendship with even-quirkier fellow student Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who takes on the duties of a strictly platonic Manic Pixie Dream Girl, giving Hanks a makeover, enlisting him into her “gang” of moped enthusiasts, and encouraging his interest in one of his teachers, a bitter, perpetually hungover English instructor played by Julia Roberts.
This is Hanks the lovable everyman, not Hanks the serious oscar nominee. In fact, if this was the first thing you’d seen with him or Julia Roberts, you’d assume they’re on the same bland caliber as Aston Kutcher and Anne Hathaway. Not much of a comedy, just a lightly entertaining drama – watching the trailer to get screen shots, it contains most of the movie’s jokes. Certainly not offensively bad, but I’m slightly offended at its total lack of rough edges.
Pam Grier is looking good. Grace Gummer looks distractingly like her mother Meryl Streep (it’s weird to see a 24-year-old Streep sitting next to 55-year-old Hanks, like one of those commercials featuring dead movie stars looking young again and trying to sell you a car). Economics professor George Takei was the highlight of the film by a long shot. I already forget who Holmes Osbourne (of The Box) played. And Bryan Cranston (Little Miss Sunshine) was convincing as Roberts’s loser husband.
When I look back on Larry Crowne, I want to think of Wilmer Valderrama on a scooter:
Katy liked it. Glad you liked it, Katy! Sorry if I was grouchy about your movie, and also for what I said about Anne Hathaway.