2 Days in the Valley


This is an odd, yet entertaining film. The plot is very complex and consists of several independent stories that are loosely connected via a common thread. Crime. Although it brings to mind Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction", the story isn't as tightly wrapped together as Quentin's masterpiece, nor does it have the (hidden) messages, but it is entertainment nonetheless. Many have accused it as being a "Pulp Fiction" knock off, particularly two arguing low rent hit men, Eric Stoltz (playing a different character), the Valley setting and the intertwined action.

Now, that is all I can, or even should say about the plot, because going into it any further would just ruin it, and this is a fun movie. I will however go into a brief synopsis of the characters, who are just as complicated as the storyline, however, that is the beauty of this movie and what makes it work.

First, you have a pair of wet-boys Dosmo (Danny Aiello) and Lee (James Spader) who are complete opposites of each other. Dosmo is somewhat kind and softhearted, loves to cook, and doesn't seem like such a bad guy. Lee on the other hand is a bit psychotic and carries a stopwatch with him to every job he does, letting his marks know exactly how long they have left to live. The two go on a job where they encounter a sleeping couple, Roy Fox (Peter Horton), and Becky (Teri Hatcher), his ex. After knocking off their target, the two go off about their affairs. Of course Lee has Helga (Charlize Theron) to go home too, so I am sure most guys aren't feeling sorry for him.

In the meantime, there is the quintessential English asshole and successful art dealer Hopper (Greg Cruttwell),who in a strange twist of the movie, passes a kidney stone. At his side is his ordinary secretary Susan (Glenne Headly) who attends to him in his moment of infirmity. Hopper is grateful and offers to repay her kindness with a boob job and liposuction, so that she can finally get a man. Of course, his reasons aren't purely philanthropic, he figures if she looks better, somehow, he will too.

Then we encounter two of the Valley's Finest, Wes (Eric Stoltz) and Alvin (Jeff Daniels). While working a sting operation of Asian massage parlors, the two accidentally come upon a murder. This is a wet dream for Wes, who really wants to work homicide and not the vice squad.

As I said in the beginning, crime is what links the story and the troupe of characters together, and it seems that none of the characters would have reason to cross one another's paths, especially in an area of the San Fernando Valley's size. The murder though, is the common thread weaving the subplots together and bringing the movie full circle. This is not done as deftly as Tarantino, but the subject matter isn't as raw as it was in "Pulp Fiction". This is a film noir, and a good one at that. There is violence interspersed with some comedy at the appropriate moments, along with a concentrated sex scene between Spader and Theron.

Now, "2 Days in the Valley" does have some points where it sits in the trough. For starters, the ending is rushed, as if the movie had to be wrapped up in order to bring you a message from their sponsors. As a result, some of the subplots didn't get resolved the way they should have been. There is this stupid catfight scene between Hatcher and Theron, and while it will turn most men on, the feminine gender will gag. It looks ridiculous, but men think with the wrong head anyway. Finally, the acting was flatter than matzo bread and the only people who gave a credulous performance were James Spader and Cruttwell. We all know why Theron and Hatcher were cast, and it has nothing to do with their performing ability (of which they have none). This movie is like the cheap name brand knock offs sold in Chinatown, it has the look and feel, but lacks the quality and substance of the real thing. However, you will enjoy it, but you the delight or durability wont last long. Look forward to the same from this movie; the director got what he paid for.

Billz Movie Worthiness Scale: C+

Billz Movie Worthiness Scale Values:

A = movie tickets and popcorn for 2 (about $40)
B = buy the DVD when it comes out ($25)
C = rent it
D = wait for it to be on cable/pay TV
E = wait for it to be on regular TV

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