24 November 2005 | aimless-46
Try "Four Rooms" Instead
The good news is that "No Vacancy" is not totally unwatchable. I managed to get through the WHOLE thing by breaking it into two days of viewing. This alone makes it better than "Lenny the Wonderdog" and many student films.
Back in 1995, a young Robert Rodriquez made a fairly entertaining anthology film called "Four Rooms", the setting is a hotel and the four stories take place in different rooms of that hotel. Marius Balchunas thought the idea so compelling that he appropriated it wholesale and wrote a script structured around the same premise. His one concession to originality was to change the setting from a hotel to a motel. Unfortunately Balchunas did not pay enough attention to the credits of "Four Rooms" and failed to see that its real strength was using four writer/directors (one was Tarintino), a different director for each room.
"No Vacancy" has three main stories. Lillian (Christina Ricci) wakes up in her room to find that she has spent the night with Luke (Timothy Olyphant) instead of her finance. Reynoldo (Joaquin de Almeida), the motel manager, is sizing up his daughter's Anglo boyfriend. Two seemingly non-actor personal friends (or enemies) of Balchunas are trying to figure out a way to pay for the escort service they used the night before. There are a few other quirky characters but they add almost nothing to the mix. Robert Wagner appears at one point playing Harvey Keitel's "The Wolf" character from "Pulp Fiction"; Balchunas cleverly (Duh!) disguises this identity theft by naming the character Mr. Tangerine, apparently more homage to Tarintino (insert "Reservoir Dogs" here). Because the low budget did not permit any decent music or original score, Balchunas had to rely on lounge music, possibly borrowed from old episodes of "Surfside Six". There is no danger of a CD release.
Joaquin de Almeida's stuff is really well done, it would probably hold up well in a good movie but looks even better here because of the awful stuff that surrounds it.
Ricci's performance is nothing to write home about although that is probably due to the lame script. But "No Vacancy" is a must see for her fans because of her physical appearance. This was her mega-fat phase and her outfits reveal a lot that I didn't really need to see. But "No Vacancy" is worth seeing just to fully appreciate the miracle physical transformation that took place between it and her next film, "Sleepy Hollow". I defy anyone without prior knowledge to detect that it is the same actress. Tim Burton must have locked her down for a few months of food withdrawal and exercise before he started filming. It helped some that she wore period costumes in "Sleepy Hollow", but her face has narrowed significantly and she has gotten actual definition back in her features.