In Detroit, loner Clarence marries a call girl named Alabama, steals cocaine from her pimp, and tries to sell it in Hollywood. Meanwhile, the owners of the cocaine, the mob, track them down and try to reclaim it.
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>
When Ted leaves the room with the married couple, his hair is visibly shorter than when he was in the room. 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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During the credits, one member of the A Band Apart production logo rips off his black suit and turns into a bellboy. This is Tim Roth's Reservoir Dogs character, Mr. Orange, who becomes Ted the Bellhop. See more »
It's impossible to analyze this film without breaking it down into its four segments for separate comment. It would also be improper, since it was not intended to be anything less than an anthology from four notable independent filmmakers: Alexandre Rockwell, Alison Anders, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino.
The first episode is exactly the sort of thing that someone in a high school drama production would want to do, but can't get away with in a high school drama production. It's juvenile, unfunny, and lifeless, but it has the (pointless) nudity and lines of dialogue like:
Witch #1: "I am your mother."
Witch #2: "Then why are we sleeping together?"
that sound like the screenwriter is giggling and thinking, "I can't believe I'm getting away with this! I'm so clever!"
Nothing is at stake in the first episode; it's generally expected that a story must have conflict in order to BE a story. This has none. Just some half-baked jokes and a pair of topless women (If I wanted that, I'd skip renting a movie and go out instead.)
Second episode is a hair better, but you'll find yourself crying "Why doesn't Ted the Bellboy do [insert plot resolution here] and get the bloody hell out of there!" When it finally does end, you're disheartened to find that it had no reason to exist. Two snips with a pair of scissors, a bit of tape, and we wouldn't know the difference. Roll opening credits, go straight to the Rodriguez segment.
Third episode has some structural support to keep it from caving in on itself. The surprise in the middle (I won't give it away, don't worry) is horrifying enough to give the segment some heft. Rodriguez and his d.p., Guillermo Navarro, move it along dexterously and (as usual) have a good handle on visual comedy.
The last segment is the best. I think it's safe to say that Quentin Tarantino has, officially, never disappointed me as a director or screenwriter. My heart leapt as soon as I heard his trademark dialogue coming from the lips of Marisa Tomei as "Four Rooms" segued from "The Misbehavers" to "The Man From Hollywood." I wasn't sure if his take on Ted the Bellhop's misadventures was going to be any good, but I knew that if he wrote it and helmed it, it wasn't going to be all bad.
What a pleasant surprise (still just talking about the fourth segment here). This part of the movie, with its ridiculous premise (lifted form an old Hitchcock episode, which it acknowledges out loud), moves along speedily, and the actors take to it as naturally as any other movies by Q.T. Basically playing himself, Tarantino is hilarious. If anything, he knows A) how people really act when they're drunk (i.e. not like Dudley Moore caricatures) B) why people think he's so obnoxious, like a real-life, fast-talking Jar Jar Binks and C) how to put some bang in his visual storytelling. It's low-rent Tarantino, don't get me wrong, but it's also the best part of "Four Rooms."
All in all, the first film I've ever seen that starts out with a loathsome, horrifying badness, gets incrementally better with each passing fifteen minutes, and ends as good as one would like. Just don't make me watch it again.
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