This movie features the collaborative directorial efforts of four new filmmakers, each of whom directs a segment of this comedy. It's New Year's Eve at the Mon Signor Hotel, a former grand old Hollywood hotel, now fallen upon hard times. Often using physical comedy and sight gags, this movie chronicles the slapstick misadventures of Ted, the Bellhop. He's on his first night on the job, when he's asked to help out a coven of witches in the Honeymoon Suite. Things only get worse when he delivers ice to the wrong room and ends up in a domestic argument at a really bad time. Next, he foolishly agrees to watch a gangster's kids for him while he's away. Finally, he finishes off the night refereeing a ghastly wager. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
After the Jerry Lewis speech, the cameraman's shadow is visible on the back wall. See more »
Sam the Bellhop:
We used to have Fifty on staff here. Fifty! I'm the only one left. It all comes down to one schmuck, me. The night shift bellhop. What the hell is that, a bellhop? Huh, what is that? You know where the name comes from? Huh? From someone stupid! Some schmuck rings and bell and ya hop, you hop front and center.
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The film continues until the credits are halfway over. See more »
Four Rooms was concocted like one of those many, many collaborative efforts from directors in the 60's and 70's (i.e. The Witches, Ro.Go.PaG, Boccaccio '70, etc), except this would revolve around a bell-hop on New Years Eve. It disqualifies itself as being any kind of masterpiece or classic in independent film-making, and sometimes the filmmakers (Alison Anders, Robert Rodriguez, and Alexandre Rockwell, and Quentin Tarantino, the last two also serving as executive producer) look like they're relishing too much in their (limited) clout and exuberance to concentrate. As was with many others who viewed the film, I found that the first two segments were the lesser ones, and the last two were the best ones. It all comes down, in this case, to which two were funnier. So, let's break each one down:
Allison Anders' film is a quirky, quasi-lesbian take on a coven of witches, featuring the likes of Madonna and Lily Taylor, are the first to shake up (perhaps for the better in this one) Ted the bell-hop. Ted, by the way, is played with a continuous, nervous-type of fervor that goes from being innocuous, to annoying, and then acceptable again. It's also interesting to see how his character goes through different motions when under each director (for example, in Rodriguez's film he's more of a cartoon-type of character, and in Tarantino's film he hearkens slightly to his previous collaborations with the director, quieter, on edge in a particular way). Some of the laughs are surrounded by a kind of attitude put forth by the director that seems a little off. Maybe I'm the wrong audience for it, though- the women in the audience may appreciate it, or rather amused by it, more than I. I give it a B-
Alexandre Rockwell's The Wrong Man is my least favorite of the bunch, as Ted gets stuck with a couple of crazed fetishists (David Proval and Jennifer Beals). The problem here lies with two things- the fact that the comedic timing/chemistry is a little iffy/off with the three actors, and that the writing doesn't come off like it's naturally funny. When Beals' character Angela runs off about Ted's private parts, this could be funny, but it's more 'ho-ho' than 'ha-ha' to me. Some of the tension from Roth brings some laughs, but not enough to compensate the uncomfortable atmosphere around the whole segment. I give it a C-
The third segment, The Misbehaviors, displays how clever and quick Rodriguez can be with physical comedy (slapstick) as well as in getting laughs from kids (as he did here and there in his Spy Kids movies). It is also a boost that the whole segment comes off as though it's like a live-action Looney Tunes short- it's so ridiculous that in some scenes I burst out laughing (i.e. Ted's reaction to the corpse). The set-up with the parents was also amusing in how Banderas and Tamlyn Tomita act towards the kids. Then the pay-off knocks it out of the park. Grade: A
Then we come to the closure, featuring the indie wunderkind at the time, Tarantino, as he takes on two sources of inspiration- Rohald Dahl's "Man from the South" short story, later translated through Alfred Hitchcock's television show. It's a smart, hip little piece of Hollywood satire from Tarantino, as he himself plays an overly obnoxious Hollywood filmmaker, with two guys by his side (Paul Calderon and Bruce Willis), as they take a gamble right after the stroke of midnight. It took me a couple of time to watch this to really get into it, but when I did it was even more promising. The camera-work in the scene (via 'Dogs' and 'Pulp' cinematographer Andrzej Sekula) is deliberately paced, and it's perfectly leisurely for the pace of the last segment. That much, if not all, of the dialog is funny it's because of the skill and chemistry between the four of them. Plus, a little prologue with Marisa Tomei and Kathy Griffin gives the indication of what insanity is in store. Grade- A.
So, is this film a success? For it's time, I'm not sure. With the power of four million off the success of each director's previous efforts (Tarantino with 'Dogs', Rodriguez with El Mariachi, Anders with Gas, Food, and Lodging, and Rockwell with In the Soup, all from the 92 Sundance place), they did whatever they wanted, and it's not the success it could've been. On the other hand, when one looks at the films in perspective, it could've been a lot worse, and it wasn't. At the least, it works as one of the quintessential party movies for fans of the 90's "new-wave" crop.
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