27 October 2000 | FlickJunkie-2
Half good, half awful
This film contains two almost totally unrelated vignettes connected by a common gun. A terrorist is apprehended in an airport, but before he is caught, he throws away a handgun that was previously used in an assassination. After he is released, he obsessively seeks out the gun, which has by now been found and sold to Walter (James Gandolfini), a security guard who takes it home to his wife (Rosanna Arquette) to protect herself when he is on the night shift. After various events (which I will refrain from spoiling), the gun ends up in a pawnshop. From there, it finds its way to the next vignette.
It next belongs to the president of a country club in the Deep South. When he is bitten by a rattlesnake while on the golf course and dies, the gun is lost in the tall grass. The new president (Randy Quaid) is a philanderer who is fooling around with numerous women (Jennifer Tilly, Sean Young, Sally Kellerman, et al). His wife (Daryl Hannah) seems oblivious to all this and contents herself by cooking the favorite recipes of dead presidents. Suddenly, pieces of the gun are being received in packages addressed to all the president's lovers leading to his wife's discovery of his indicretions.
The first story is a well-crafted drama that draws the viewer in with two storylines, one following the terrorist and the other following Walter's wife Lily. The second vignette is a short story by Robert Altman, which is an imbecilic farce. It is not clear how these two short films were pasted together. I can only guess that the first story was not commercially viable due to its short length.
The acting in the first vignette was excellent. Gandolfini does his NYC working class shtick to perfection, strutting his corpulent Italian stuff around the set like a bloated stallion. Rosanna Arquette is equally good, playing the bored NYC housewife to the hilt and delivering a surprisingly accurate performance including an excellent New York accent.
The second vignette had a good deal of recognizable talent, but nothing even remotely intelligent for them to say or do. The dialogue and story were so bad that it is hard to understand why these veteran actors would want to be associated with the project. Maybe Altman had some kind of damaging evidence against them. To their credit, Randy Quaid and Jennifer Tilly made the best of a bad situation and delivered a couple of comical moments amid the mindlessness.
In rating this film, I had to split the rating in two. The drama I rated an 8/10 and the comedy a 2/10. Therefore, the average would be a 5/10. It is worth seeing the first one, but if you dare to continue, turn off your VCR/DVD and drink a six-pack. That is the only way second vignette is tolerable.