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Clay Pigeons
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Reviews & Ratings for
Clay Pigeons More at IMDbPro »

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43 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

How strange...

8/10
Author: tripwires from Singapore
2 March 2001

Clay Pigeons is, to put it mildly, a very strange movie. That could be just me though, as this is the first dark comedy I've seen. Despite that I had fun watching it, from the first scene (which, by the way, gives you an awesome view of Joaquin Phoenix's beautiful eyes) up till the very last. Joaquin Phoenix, once again, delivered a memorable performance as Clay. He said his lines with conviction and the right amount of emotions at the right places. I don't know if Vince Vaughn was supposed to be hilarious but he cracked me up. I don't fancy Vince much but I like him in this movie. The plot is pretty unpredictable, and even though it doesn't grip your heart with tension it will maintain your interest until the very end cause you'll be dying to find out what happens to Clay.

Overall this film is definitely worth a watch.

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29 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

An excellent thriller that comes out of nowhere.

9/10
Author: Michael DeZubiria (wppispam2013@gmail.com) from Luoyang, China
27 June 2003

Clay Pigeons is one of those movies that I only rented because I worked at a video store when it was released and I got movie rentals for free and would go through every movie that came out. I'm glad I rented it, too, because this is one of the best thrillers I've seen in years. Like it's title, there's nothing really complex or intricate about it, and it even follows pretty close to the usual thriller plotline, but it is so well acted and written that it thrills and entertains throughout the entire film.

The characters are made up mostly of caricatures. Caricatures, in this case, oddly enough, of the actors performing them rather than the role that needed to be filled in the story. Janeane Garofalo plays the part of an FBI agent assigned to investigate the various murders that begin turning up in a small town. Like most of her characters, she is disillusioned, sarcastic, and continually amazed at the sheer idiocy with which she is surrounded. Vince Vaughn delivers a wonderful performance as the villain, with his endless charm making him the perfect actor to play the part of a serial killer. `They're all charming,' as they say.

As is often the case, Joaquin Phoenix also plays a rather unenviable role, as he did in movies like 8MM, To Die For, and Gladiator. He is a good guy in Clay Pigeons, but after you watch the movie it becomes obvious that this guy must just have a serious problem with bad luck. A good friend of Clay's (Phoenix) kills himself in a remote location early in the film because of an affair that Clay has been having with his wife, forcing Clay to alter the scene to make it look like an accidental death in order to avoid looking like he did it to get rid of him so that he could be with his wife.

It's strange to notice the absolute absence of any kind of remorse or sadness that this wife shows after her husband kills himself. Clay is freaking out, and this vicious bitch wants to continue their sexual escapades as though nothing has even happened. When Lester Long (Vaughn) shows up, he strikes up a friendship with Clay and, through a bizarre fishing incident, becomes irreversibly intertwined with Clay's murders. Basically they are stuck working together for the rest of the movie no matter how much Clay's hatred for Lester grows. You'll just have to watch the movie to see why.

I thought that the ending was a tiny bit of a copout, if only because it involves a situation at a distant roadside diner/café that ends too perfectly. This situation just had way too many variables that could have happened to have come off exactly as it was expected to, but the movie was still so good that it is more than worth it. If you are looking for a great thriller (and you've already seen The Way of the Gun), Clay Pigeons is the way to go.

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25 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Dark Humor Drives Engrossing Story

9/10
Author: jhclues from Salem, Oregon
11 September 2000

In a small town out west, a target practice outing with a friend kicks off a chain of bizarre events that lead a man to involvement with murder and an unsolicited alliance with a person of, shall we say, `questionable' character in `Clay Pigeons,' directed by David Dobkin. Joaquin Phoenix is Clay Birdwell, a regular guy whose lack of judgment and discretion catches up with him unexpectedly in this dark, maddening tale of morality and fate that is sometimes morose and disturbing, at other times darkly humorous, as it deftly examines the trappings of the tangled webs we humans weave. Clay has become mired in a moral dilemma from which there seems to be no escape, when he meets and is befriended by Lester Long (Vince Vaughn), a trucker passing through town one night. At a local bar, Lester observes that Clay doesn't exactly have a way with women; it gets Lester's attention, which leads to a game of pool and, later on, a casual fishing trip that, like the target practice outing, proves to be a life-altering experience for Clay. Phoenix is perfectly cast as Clay, ably conveying the effects of the dark quagmire into which he is cast by circumstances he is unable to control. His performance enables you to feel him sinking ever deeper as the story moves along, and to empathize with him and experience what he is going through. You realize that he understands his situation, and it becomes a matter of waiting to see if he will make the right decisions, regardless of the inevitable consequences. It creates a tension that makes you want to yell at the screen to tell him what to do. Vaughn is excellent as well as the cowboy trucker with the winning smile, robust laugh and a closet full of dark secrets. There's a menace behind the good-natured facade he puts on that becomes more pronounced as the events unfold. Pretty early on you know what this guy is all about, but somehow it only enhances the anxiety of the whole situation as it becomes a cat-and mouse game (with some unexpected twists) between Clay and Lester. Another notable performance comes from the charismatic Janeane Garofalo, who is surprisingly effective and credible as F.B.I. agent Dale Shelby, who comes to town when things take a turn and begin to heat up. It's a credit to her talent and versatility that she can pull this character off so well. The supporting cast includes Georgina Cates (Amanda), Scott Wilson (Sheriff Mooney), Vince Vieluf (Deputy Barney), and Monica Moench (Kimberly). There are moments in this movie that absolutely make you want to tear your hair out, a credit to the way Dobkin put this project together and delivered it. `Clay Pigeons' is a nail-biter that will keep you going right up to the end (which is terrific); Clay and Lester are characters you're going to remember, and just to make sure there's a brief, inspired reminder at the end of the credits (so stay with it all the way). Relatively overlooked during it's original release, this film should gain new life on video, and deservedly so; this is one you'll be glad you took a look at. I rate this one 9/10.

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22 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

One of the year's most entertaining and original movies. *** out of ****

8/10
Author: Blake French (dlfspartan@aol.com) from Mason, Michigan
24 February 1999

"Clay Pigeons" is a black comedy centering on a young man named Clay Birdwell, who works as a Montana gas station attendant. He is having an affair with his best friend's wife, Amanda. His best friend, Earl, knows about this, however. Thus he kills himself one day, and cleverly frames Clay for the murder. Clay, feeling both afraid and awkward, covers this incident up by making the death look like a suicide. The police fall for it and Clay puts this mess behind him. This film, both written and directed by newcomer David Dobkin, is the most original movie I have seen in a long while. Think about it, we haven't had a movie this clever and blackly comic since "Fargo," possible one of the best movies I have ever scene. The characters are so unique, while they don't generate much sympathy from the audience; they still are extremely fun to watch.

The performances are another great element in the movie. Vince Vaughn portrays Lester Long like he did in the recent "Psycho" remake. His style, giggle, attitude, and presence are all priceless. Joaquin Phoenix takes us though a funny joyride as he gets into more and more trouble as Clay. Let's not forget Georgina Cates, as the slutty wife of Earl. She plays cocky character who everyone loves to hate. The only character I could find is Janeane Garofalo's, who was surly inspired by Frances MacDormand from "Fargo."

The film's soundtrack is of the best there is, with songs that not only further the character's motives, but are also catchy and even describe some of the movie's plot at times. I have owned the soundtrack even before I saw the movie, which is quite unusual. But once I heard the theme song to "Clay Pigeons": "The Ballad of Lester Long," I had to get it.

I do think that this movie could have been better, however. If it had left a few more elements to the imagination, like the guilt or innocence of Clay Birdwell, and the explicit murder and sex scenes, maybe the viewer would be l bit more involved into the story. A little less plot and a little fewer characters would have also been nice.

But those are but minor complaints. I was looking forward to seeing this movie for a long time, and I was not that disappointed. "Clay Pigeons" is one of the years most entertaining and original films.

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28 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

Most Under-rated movie ever?...

9/10
Author: Thumper21 from B'ham, England
19 February 2004

Ok I was pretty much on a real bad run with my films after watching big let downs like Underworld, Bad Boys 2, Out Of time etc etc... so when Clay Pigeons came along, I really wasn't expecting much, especially as I hadn't heard anything about it before. So after watching it, I have to say this is without a shadow of a doubt one of the MOST , or possibly the BIGGEST under-rated movie ever!. Honestly I really can't think of any negative to say about it at all, the plot was gripping, funny, intense & the acting...Oooh the acting was OUTSTANDING! I mean Vince Vaughan was brilliant in his role of Lester Long, his character will have to go down as probably the funniest, creepiest & craziest bad guy ever! he definatly should have got an oscar for this performance!. Joaquin Phoenix played his part brilliantly also, this too I think is his best performance ive seen ( And i thought he was superb in Gladiator) The movie does have everything, it's run-time is 104mins, and geez they have managed to fit alot of story in that space of time, it's so fast paced, you can't take your eyes off it! Sadly though there is no region 2 dvd out for it yet, so i had to buy it region 1 which I try not too do, but for a movie of this quality it's worth it. Im sure there's loads out there that have't seen this, but I strongly suggest you do, Its 10x better than most of this garbage that Hollywood are throwing at us right now!

9/10

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17 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Great Plot

Author: Margaret (Snatraps) from USA
30 August 2003

Clay Pigeons is a great movie with an original plot, which is hard to come by these days. The acting by Joaquin Phoenix and Vince Vaughn was spectacular! I don't think that you could find better actors for these parts. They made the movie even better than it was, which says a lot. The movie also has a great ending that you wouldn't really expect. If you haven't seen this movie, you should really check it out! You won't regret it!

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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Quirky and enjoyable

Author: tresdodge from London
21 October 2004

A young man ,Clay, who lives in a small town witnesses a friend commit suicide because of affairs Clay has had with his girlfriend. Clay covers the suicide up to make it look like an accident, however death and murder continue when Clay becomes involved with an affable but murderous cowboy.

Joaquin Phoenix is very good in his role and works extremely well on screen with Vince Vaughn who is always great to see in anything. The cinematography is top notch and the music works incredibly well to all round create an off beat, interesting and watchable effort. The ending could have been better but this an enjoyable 'independent' film none the less.

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Surprisingly good

7/10
Author: AKS-6 from Sweden
11 June 2000

I usually don't read many comments here at IMDb before I have seen a certain film, I only read a few. But before I saw "Clay Pigeons" I read them all and after having done so I didn't exactly expect much when I pushed "play" on the remote control. I'm not saying that that is the only reason why I liked this movie so much, because I really thought that it was a good film. Not a masterpiece of course, but the script is witty, the acting great, and the movie in itself is quite entertaining -- it's never boring. I really, really like Joaquin Phoenix, he is one of the best young actors around now, and he didn't disappoint me in this film -- far from it. He's quite brilliant. Vince Vaughn must have had a great time playing Lester Long, you can see that he is comfortable with his character and Vaughn is better than I'd ever expected, however, for me it's Phoenix's film. He truly is amazing. As for Janeane Garofalo, she's certainly not bad, but neither very good, but that's mainly because she's in the shadow of Vaughn and Phoenix. Overall, an entertaining and rather funny film, way better than I expected. (7/10)

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13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

The laughing cowboy

8/10
Author: jotix100 from New York
26 December 2005

"Clay Pigeons" was a pleasant surprise to discover. Director David Dobkin, working with Matt Healye's screen play, has created a film with a western flavor in which a young man has the bad fortune of being around when different dead bodies are found; it doesn't take too long when Clay will be implicated in them.

Clay is an auto mechanic who made the mistake of having an affair with one of his buddies' wife. Earl reminds Clay at the beginning of the film when he decides to kill himself. He is convinced his death will have "Clay" written all over it. What's more, his widow, Amanda, the young and sexy woman who had the affair with Clay wants to continue the relationship now that her old man is gone. Clay, who has been scared out of his mind with what he had witnessed wants to be millions of miles apart from Amanda, who keeps pressuring the young man for sex.

One night at the local tavern, Lester Long, a stranger to the town, witnesses how Clay slaps Amanda in front of everyone because he has had it with her. Lester, who appears to be a friendly guy, strikes a conversation with Clay and invites him to go fishing in a nearby lake. That same lake is the place where Clay had taken the corpse of Gloria, who was killed while having sex with him by the deranged Amanda. Little does Clay know who his new friend really is.

When the FBI is called to investigate Amanda's own death, things begin to spiral for Clay. Everything is out of control. Agent Shelby thinks Clay is the one responsible for Amanda's killing and a string of others like it in the area. Clay puts two and two together and he realizes who is the killer and puts a plan into action. The last thing we see is Clay leaving town and driving in the opposite direction.

Joaquin Phoenix makes Clay come alive in a great reading of this character. Mr. Phoenix is at times the confused man who is perplexed and wonders how anyone can be accusing him of the crimes he supposedly committed. Vince Vaughn is perfect as the reptilian Lester Long. He adds a layer to his character with the nervous laugh he doesn't seem to control. Janeane Garofalo plays FBI agent Shelby with good results. Scott Wilson is seen as Sheriff Mooney who believes in Clay's innocence.

The excellent music score provided by John Lurie serves the movie well as does the cinematography of Eric Edwards. David Dobkin directed with assurance, making this film become a good way to spend some time.

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15 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Edgy psychological thriller with great script, comedic touch and strong sound track.

Author: Beatrice Beaubien from Toronto, Canada
17 September 1998

A story of double-double-cross and serial killing in Montana. From the first shot the film engages and won't let go. Joaquin Phoenix, Janeane Garofalo and Vince Vaughn take us on a trip that's simultaneously entertaining and harrowing.

Great music by John Lurie (aka Lounge Lizard, Down by Law, etc.), and featuring oldies that carry the merciless momentum of the film. Ridley Scott co-produced.Cinematography is evocative of My Own Private Idaho (it was filmed in Utah).

Director David Dobkin has his own strong signature, particularly his deft pulling together of the characters and the light comedy, but there were also elements of Jarmusch and Van Sant. Fine cast and an excellent film.

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