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Richter Boudreau, the son of local celebrity Cynthia, is not very successful and works as a film critic for a local newspaper. In a short time he loses his job and his heritage, and one of his "friends" starts to blackmail him. His only hope is that others around him are even bigger dummies. Written by
Handsome red-haired Eric Stoltz (as Richter Boudreau) has trouble making ends meet on the salary he makes as a "Tulsa" Okalahoma newspaper movie critic. One end he likes to meet is his nose to a line of coke, though Mr. Stoltz never seems to get a buzz off the stuff. He also smokes cigarettes constantly, probably because nobody told him you have to inhale the dammed things for the desired effect; since the character Stoltz plays would work just as well if he did not smoke, why he pretends is a mystery.
Another end Stoltz likes to meet is the one that finds what he calls the "nether regions" of topless house-guests who spread their legs, like strung-out stripper Joanna Going (as Cherry). Her line, "Sometimes I feel like a little animal protein," is a tip off. Ms. Going is introduced by Stoltz' dark hair-dyed dealer James Spader (as Ronnie Stover). Mr. Spader, who fills his tight clothing well, is married to Stoltz' lusciously lusty ex, Deborah Kara Unger (as Vicky). Trigger-happy Michael Rooker (as Keith) connects everyone.
Supporting and cameo shots come from Mary Tyler Moore, James Coburn, Cameron Diaz, and Peter Strauss. The DVD sleeve touts Ms. Diaz as one of the top-billed stars, but her "comic" interlude lasts only a few minutes. The synopsis reads, "The black sheep son of a wealthy Tulsa family returns to the world he'd renounced and is forced into a blackmail scheme by his high school sweetheart's menacing husband. When he helps the only eyewitness to a murder, he gets caught in a web of revenge, deceit and redemption."
Sometimes "Tulsa" seems an awful lot like a "Hollywood" acting class. Stoltz seems to play it straight, while most of the others seem to be having some scenery-chewing fun with their characters. This film was promoted as a "crime thriller" but often looks like it was really intended to be a "comedy thriller" - at least, that is how it comes across. In any case, it's not entirely clear - or successful - but the society "party" scene is funny, with Ms. Moore, Going and Josh Ridgway (as Billy) seeming to capture the film's mood.
***** Keys to Tulsa (11/20/96) Leslie Grief ~ Eric Stoltz, James Spader, Joanna Going, Mary Tyler Moore
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