U Turn (1997) Poster


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Dark, gritty and some very nice images
Philip Van der Veken28 March 2005
"U Turn" seems to be a movie that not many people have enjoyed and I really wonder why that is. I'm not saying that it was the best movie ever, but it sure deserves better than what most people over here say about it.

The story starts with Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn), driving somewhere in the middle of the desert in Arizona, on his way to pay the bookies that have already taken two of his fingers because he was too late to pay them. His car breaks down and the only option that he has is to leave the main road and to go to a small, dusty town called Superior. In this town live all kind of weird people. A blind Indian who doesn't do much else but drinking Dr. Pepper on a bench, next to his dead dog; a dumb garage owner; a young macho, called T.N.T, who seems to come straight from the fifties and his nymphomaniac girlfriend... Bobby Cooper wants to get out of there as quickly as possible. But he has one problem. He's got no money because he was robbed and the mechanic charges him an enormous price for the repairs. He can't do anything else but to stay in the village, to try to live with these weird people and to stay out of the hands of the bookies until he has found some money...

I must say that I was quite surprised by this movie. The way everything was shot is really well done and the music (composed and selected by Ennio Morricone) gives it all an extra touch. Even all the acting was very convincing. With people like Sean Penn, Billy Bob Thornton, Joaquin Phoenix and Nick Nolte I don't expect anything less than a good performance. But it has to be said: Jennifer Lopez, who certainly isn't a great actress, was actually pretty good in this movie.

All in all this is a very good movie, plenty of dark humor, good acting and some very nice shots. Personally I think this is one of Oliver Stone's finer movies and that's why I give it a 7.5/10.
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A grim but comic confection.
planzing9 August 1999
In "U-Turn," Oliver Stone narrows his focus from the broad-canvass projects he typically produces. Those seeking the knowing profundities of "JFK" or "Nixon" will be disappointed. This is a genre picture of the desert southwestern potboiler variety, a much-updated "Painted Desert" kind of film. Lots of bad luck, scorpions, whiskey, sexual perversity, bullying, greed, lots of sweat and very little shaving. The basic questions begged by a movie like this one are these: Who will have sex? Who will live? Who will die? And who will end up with the money? By the final reel, all these questions are very satisfactorily answered. For a picture of this type, "U-Turn" is very good indeed.

Sean Penn is smashing, Nolte has never been creepier, and Jennifer Lopez is, er, extremely effective in this film's only real female role. John Voight, buried in the role a mystic Indian, is most entertaining. And we get another patented oddball performance by Billy Bob Thornton that is absolutely worth the price of admission. For good measure, Juaquin Phoenix and Claire Danes deliver a too-brief but electrifying turn as a young couple adept at creating trouble. As if Sean Penn, in this picture, didn't have enough already.

Sure, the predictable desert atmospherics are a bit overdone. But the solid script by John Ridley, the letter-perfect performances, and Stone's sure directorial hand make this one of his better films.

This movie is out of the theatres, so one word to you parents about "U-Turn." This is not one to watch in the presence of the kiddies. It contains very graphic and violence and sexual material clearly unsuitable for young folk or the sensitive soul of any age.

But if you like your film noir with sand and scorpions thrown in for good measure, this is a sure-fire rental that will leave you fully satisfied.
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Modern noir with a dark twist...
centurymantra-225 July 2000
Brilliant & hallucinatory cinematography, impeccable use of music, and a handful of dark, edgy character sketches all work together very nicely to make this bleak, dark-humoured desert noir an overlooked highlight of Oliver Stone's career. The highly evocative atmosphere plays out against the Arizona desert in a way that (in addition to foreshadowing some of the work done in Terry Gilliam's own twisted little masterpiece 'Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas') seems to mirror, in a more subtle and tasteful manner, much of Stone's work in 'Natural Born Killers'. However, rather than hitting us over the head with whatever socially charged 'message' he may have been attempting to convey in that film, here he is simply content to let it build up a thick and steamy ambience that moves our hapless comrades on towards their own impending personal apocalypse. Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, and Jennifer Lopez all turn in great performances and Billy Bob Thornton's eccentric character sketch elevates what may be defined as a bit part to a far more relevant status. Modern noir with a few dark twists and a taste all it's own that's well worth digging into...for those who have a taste for this kind of thing, if you know what I mean.
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Probably not the best advertisement for Superior, AZ
noizyme5 February 2005
This is one of my favorite Oliver Stone films. It has everything (cheating incestuous sex, chopping off digits, a dumb hick mechanic, a blind native American who wants Dr. Pepper all the time, etc etc etc) that a well-rounded movie needs, plus it was completely done in a comic fashion. It is closest to Stone's other film "Natural Born Killers" by way of stylish camera shots and the addition of comedy into a dramatic setting.

Sean Penn brilliantly plays the lead character, whose car blows a radiator hose out in the middle of the Arizona desert, and the closest town is that of Superior, AZ, a dirt-road town with barely 1,000 people living there, if that. Penn goes through hell from the beginning when random characters in the city want something from him and in return, it drives him to try his best to get the hell out of Superior. Everything during his days in Superior is centered around money and the fact that he has hardly any. So he gets schemed into murders, and he gets whatever little he has taken away from him (his train ticket gets ripped up by the local hoodlum, TNT, again brilliantly played by Joaquin Phoenix, and he has several full bottles of beverages broken for different reasons). Therefore, he's constantly running in circles to get out of this town.

There is an all-star cast (back then, and now) of actors: Jennifer Lopez (a better singer than actress), Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Bob Thornton (the best among the bunch as the hick mechanic), Sean Penn, Claire Danes, Liv Tyler (only for a second in the train station), and Jon Voight...all packed into a nice DVD. The music had that comic, light-hearted side to it (with the country sound of a jew's-harp played over violin or whatever, etc) which helped you to see the irony that is driving him to madness in this town. Again the camera shots were awesome, and they had that Oliver Stone quality of the 90's where he would switch frames with the villain of the movie with an animal skull and switch the point-of-view to see what the actors are seeing, and so on.

I didn't like the ending so much. I kind of wanted things to resolve themselves, but instead, things just keep on falling into the bad-luck-category of his life. I also hated Jennifer Lopez's delivery of lines (just like in any other movie with her...The Cell, etc) because they feel so fake and put on that you know the director was just looking for T&A for the film. Also she doesn't play a native American very well. She has a thick accent straying too much towards Latino that you don't pick up on any cultural change until you get the story.

Overall, though, (bad point aside) it is a brilliant movie that is easy to watch if you like the other Stone films. I had to give it a 9/10 for great performances, great music, awesome story, and everything in between. Go out and buy it if your a fan of any of the actors listed above, or if you are trying to find a great weekend film with friends.
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Black humour of a kind rarely seen in mainstream Hollywood
patrick powell11 April 2007
As usual before adding my two ha'porth-worth of comment, I looked at other comments (including Roger Ebert). And, although I didn't read all of them (there are very many), I was surprised that none I read seemed to pick up what was perfectly obvious to me: this is a very funny film, but done in a deadpan style. So deadpan, in fact, that I'm not surprised that might be news to many. I have, coincidentally, recently been buying up on DVD quite a few classic film noir (Build My Gallows High, The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers) and like everyone else thought that the era of film noir had come and gone and that such films were no longer being produced. Well, blow me if I'm not very wrong: this is quintessential film noir (though done in colour and with the proviso that most film noir is not intended to be funny). It would be pointless to recount the plot, but if you liked all those classic Mitchum/Bogart/Van Helin/Edwrad g Robinson etc films, you will love this. Sean Penn never disappoints. By the way the very final twist in the plot had me laughing out loud. Go for it: you won't be disappointed.
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Gritty and brutal, but entertaining as all hell.
ilovedolby23 May 2003
`U Turn' is an assault on the senses. But then again, what more can one expect from director Oliver Stone whose innovative brand of filmmaking is often filled with characters that are violent, insane, heroic, and even bizarre. `U Turn' has many characters played by big name actors that intertwine themselves around a central character, in this case, played by Sean Penn (`Casualties Of War'). Ultimately, a film about getting away with murder, `U Turn' is an intriguing blend of story, violence, and strange people. `U Turn' takes place during a hot day in Arizona where we meet our principal character, Bobby (Penn), who is on his way to California to pay a debt to the mob that has helped him in one way or the other. When his car breaks down, Bobby is forced to have a redneck, roadside mechanic, named Darrell (Billy Bob Thornton), fix it. While his car is in the shop, he ends up walking into a local town where he meets some very eccentric people from a blind vagrant (Jon Voight), a drunken sheriff, a hillbilly and his girlfriend, to an exotic woman who sticks out like a sore thumb against the simplicity of the town. Every person he encounters ultimately leads to a conclusion that he could never have expected. Robert Richardson whose superb cinematography has been used in several films of note filmed `U Turn' masterfully. Richardson's craft with a camera can be seen in such other movies as `The Horse Whisperer,' `Snow Falling On Cedars,' and `The Four Feathers.' With its rough cuts, non-steady cam shots, and scenes filmed as the sun glaring down on the actors, Richardson's work gives a harsh and nauseating feel to the film. Stone's direction was excellent. He's an admirable director in that he doesn't follow the mainstream concepts that are commonly seen in most motion pictures. Watching a Stone film is like watching graduate film students show off their work-it's fresh, energetic, and exciting. `U Turn,' undoubtedly, has some of 1997s best performances. Penn is outstanding as a guy who just keeps happening on the wrong place at the wrong time. Jennifer Lopez is surprisingly good in her performances as the wife of a real estate salesman. Lopez seems to have some talent on the screen…unlike her singing career. Her performance in another offbeat movie, `Out Of Sight,' was also good. Nick Nolte is as Nick Nolte does-he's rough around the edges, perverse and violent as the real estate salesman who seems to rule over the sleepy town. Other performances of note are that of Thornton has a slack-jawed yokel mechanic. Joaquin Phoenix (`Signs') as a hillbilly and his simple-minded girlfriend, played by Claire Danes (`The Hours') give the film a hysterical notch. Other points of interest in the film are the score, composed by veteran, Italian, film composer Ennio Morrcone (`Mission To Mars') whose music adds a humorous atmosphere to the irony of the film. All in all, `U Turn' is a film that is gritty and brutal, but entertaining as all hell. ***1/2
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Oliver Stones' best film by a wide margin.
terraplane9 January 2004
U Turn is a great film. Of course it borrows from other films, so what? Sean Penn turns in a great performance as does Nick Nolte, Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Voight.Jennifer Lopez does her best to keep up with the seasoned professionals and by and large succeeds. As the story unfolds we get some great cameo performances from Voight and Thornton, whilst Penn pulls out all the stops. The twisting noir-ish plot succeeds in keeping us enthralled for the duration. None of the characters are particularly likeable which could be a problem in certain circumstances but in this film it just serves to make us enjoy their various fates. If Stone were to make smaller scale films like this instead of overblown rubbish like Any Given Sunday, Natural Born Killers and The Doors he might just find a more willing audience.
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Sordid tales in a little town of the southern USA.
adam-x10 December 2004
A marked gambler (Penn) on the run, comes to a little town in the middle of nowhere, south USA. A town filled with very unusual characters, sordid secrets and strange opportunities, that seem very appealing to this "Pat Poker" on the run, which desperately needs money to pay the idiotic, redneck town mechanic. Penn and Nolte are at the greatest level, and Lopez fills the requisites of her character. Beautiful piece of writing, with surprising plot twists which make way to a most brilliant ending, "Stone" style despair. A very misunderstood work by this brilliant, all-American director. Another piece of genuine America, with all her virtues and even more flaws, seen trough "stone" cold eyes...
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Billy Bob Thornton And Joaquin Phoenix Stole The Movie, With What Little Parts They Had.
FrancesTheWHORE8 March 2005
U-Turn is about a man named Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn) who is on his way to pay a debt to a gangster when his car breaks down in the small, redneck town of Superior. There, Bobby is taken advantage of by the good IL' boys in every way possible, from the dirty mechanic to the town sheriff. He meets a beautiful girl named Grace (Jennifer Lopez) and falls for her, and she seemingly falls for him as well. From here, there are twists and turns in the plot all the way to the very end of the movie.

Sean Penn was decent as Bobby, but seemed a bit week and was taken advantage of a bit too easily. I guess that was Bobby's character so he did a good job. Jennifer Lopez did not have as big a part as I thought, but she did OK with it. Nothing spectacular, just OK.

The characters that stole the movie, in my honest opinion, were Darrell the mechanic (Billy Bob Thornton) and Toby N. Tucker (Joaquin Phoenix). They had the redneck stereotypes down pat, especially Thornton.

This movie was a decent little thriller. I am glad I did not see it way back when it was in theaters but it is OK for a rental. I give 7 of 10 stars.
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Good film
dav7nine18 September 2004
I have to say this film was sort of what I thought it was... I really enjoyed it!

I've seen Sean Penn in a few films now and they're all good. Oliver Stone is one of the finest men in film production. It's visually stunning, loads of mad camera pans and colour blast-outs! The supporting cast are great as well. Billy Bob Thornton looks nothing like him and is away with it, Jennifer Lopez is attractive an alluring, Nick Nolte is totally convincing and great as the wicked husband, Joiquin Phoenix is mad as TNT and possibly the best is John Voight as a blind homeless person!

A great film with a good ending... although I wouldn't like to be any of them!

A good 7/10
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Very entertaining
AKS-616 April 2001
I'm ashamed to say that even though I'd seen this film in the video store for years I haven't gotten around to renting it until a few days ago. Well, I've seen the film now and it was better than I expected. U Turn is a very entertaining, funny and violent film. Sean Penn is great as always, Lopez surprised me by actually doing a half decent job acting, something she hasn't done in any of the other films I've seen her in (with the exception of Out of Sight... maybe). I have to say, though, that the characters that make this film entertaining and sometimes even hilarious are Billy Bob Thornton's disgusting mechanic and Joaquin Phoenix's violent TNT. It was so funny to watch Phoenix's face every time the sheriff turned up. Hilarious. (6/10)
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Somebody get me a scriptwriter!
niteman28 October 1998
U-Turn is less a movie than a sequence of scenes, loosely connected by common characters. It begins with Sean Penn arriving in a small Arizona town, on the lam from a loan shark and missing several fingers. During the course of the movie, various things happen. Penn's character connects with a feisty young Latina who may or may not be having sex with her father. Claire Danes puts in a brief appearance as a hick stereotype, as does Vince Vaughan. Things happen, in no particular order and for no particular reason, for a good six and a half hours. Finally, the film ends, having boldly ignored such niceties as character development and story arc. A muddled, boring, overlong mess of a movie.
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great cast (oh yeah.. the film too!)
Rhea11 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
although some may hate the film for its darkness, you can't dismiss the great talent of the cast. Sean Penn was amazing as his constantly tormented character, Billy Bob Thornton was almost unrecognizable and his character soon became just as equally easy to hate, Claire Danes was funny "You killed him!" I almost died laughing.. but perhaps the BEST part of the movie was the sadly short but scene stealing role by Joaquin Phoenix! I actually bought this movie (as a DVD too!) JUST because he was in it.. in fact i was on a hunt for Joaquin movies.. and i am glad to say that I wasn't disappointed. He is not only an amazing actor (and scene stealer ^__^) but also able to be funny as hell! (Toby N. Tucker!) He also really gets into the roles (he shaved TNT into his hair for christ's sake! ).

Thankfully though I really liked the movie. It is dark, but that doesn't make it a bad movie, ONLY a movie that people who hate dark movies obviously wouldn't like. And that's all there is to it. (**SPOILER**) I admit I was disappointed when Bobby died at the end.. but at the same time I was also relieved. You can't for one second think that with all of his bad luck and bad decisions that he's gonna live happily ever after.. It went with the whole dark theme of the movie.

I also want to say that movies are SOO much better when you have NO idea what you are about to see. Your mind is untainted and unbiased on what is going to happen/how good it will be/etc. and you really get to judge it on your own, based on your own likes and dislikes. I had no idea what I was going to get when I bought this movie (other than Joaquin Phoenix ^_^) and it made the sick twisted plot of the movie that much more surprising. It really is a "weird" movie, but at least it's good at what it does.
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Sort of good but not really
Derek23720 February 2004
I'm a huge fan of Oliver Stone, he's one of my favourite directors, but I've never been so on-the-fence about any of his movies. U-Turn has many good qualities, and also many bad qualities, too. I loved all the scenes with Bobby's interaction with the crazy townspeople, and I couldn't help but be amused when something bad happens to him. But the actual plot is stupid. The twists, turns, and double-crossings were so ridiculous that it seems like it's just spoofing a bunch of movies with those kinds of plot lines. It likely was the intention, but that still doesn't make it right. It's highlight is mostly the great cast and great acting.

U-Turn is definitely at the bottom of the list when it comes to Oliver Stone films, but if you've seen 'em all, you might as well see this one, too. After all, there are plenty of fans of the movie, and I sort of thought it was good....and kind of liked it. But I know Stone is above this and I expected more.

My rating: 5/10
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A film about trust
cutloose123 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Probably my favorite film by Oliver Stone and one of my favorite opening scenes. Seems to me this film is about the state of the nation when the Indians had the land and the state its in now. None of the reviews I've read of this film have mentioned the images of Indian tribes people that pop onto the screen at various times during the movie. All of the characters in the movie betray each other at some stage. Sort of harks back to the times of broken treaties. Great shots of of the landscape go unnoticed by the the characters as they go about their selfish enterprises. Respect for the land and for one another gone. Amidst some of the humour a sad undertone.
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What happens if Spicoli, Selena, Karl Childers, Jack Cates, Joe Buck & the dude from "Southern Comfort" make a movie directed by O. Stone?
Twins6524 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Not as much as you'd think. It had a chance to work, but ultimately fizzled.

I finally got around to watching U TURN, a full 15 years after it came out and sunk at the box office. You never even see it playing on cable, so I had to rent a copy. I just recently watched Stone's latest, SAVAGES, which I did like, but the American public apparently didn't. Anyway,I thought I'd catch up on missed Oliver Stone movies, and this was first up.

This movie had a nice look, the acting decent, and the story was OK (for the first hour anyway), but then the drag out, double-crosses (and "triple crosses") just seemed to go on forever. It should have been better, but I just can't figure out why it wasn't. I really wanted it to end soon after Nolte took the direct ax shot, but we still had another unseen plot line to develop with Boothe.

Cameos by Julie Hagerty, Laurie Metcalf, and a blink & you'll miss her Liv Tyler were helpful, J. Phoenix always brings it, and the Russian guys were amusing. However, only Penn's scenes with Billy Bob really seemed to hit with some punch. I've always liked Thornton, even when he's sleep-walking through his blockbuster paycheck roles.

Anyway, I say take a pass on U TURN, as it's too long and the payoff just ain't worth the wait.
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How to turn unexpected into predictable
Enchorde20 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Recap: Bobby Cooper is a small time crook that has fallen on hard times. Or so he thinks. He is in debt to Russian mafia, but has managed to get the money and are on his way to Las Vegas when his car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. He turns of the interstate and stumbles in to a small town. And if he thinks he was in a pinch before he doesn't have to wait long before everything goes out of control. Everyone has their own agenda and Bobby soon finds himself in not one but two murder plots where a married couple wants the other murdered. All along he needs to get along a more or less crazy set of characters that seem out to get him.

Comments: The tagline "expect the unexpected" sums it up pretty good actually. This is a thriller that twists and turns and changes directions, and has got so many surprises, that it quickly got very predictable. You just had to expect that the opposite of what the story wanted you to believe to be more than one step ahead of it. If you do want a surprising end, or a twist in a story to augment the suspense, you can't overdo it. If you do you get the exact opposite result from what you aim for. A fine and experienced director like Oliver Stone should know this, but he went completely overboard here.

The movie sports an impressive cast, both of then solid veterans and actors that has gotten great careers since. You can see veterans like Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Jon Voight, Powers Boothe and Billy Bob Thornton in prominent roles. Then pretty new Jennifer Lopez plays the female lead and you can see Abraham Benrubi, Claire Danes and Joaquin Phoenix in small roles, but still making their own mark. Their addition to the movie is more important than the screen time they're given, as their characters are important to get Bobby in the right mindset. That is desperate. And especially Danes and Phoneix give good over the top performances for psychotic characters. And if you pay attention you can catch Liv Tyler in an extremely small role.

So there is actually more reason to watch the movie because of the cast list more than the story. The story was pretty average, not very successful at all at being either surprising nor suspenseful.

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Red Rock West anyone?
00Mike265 August 2000
This is totally unoriginal, uninteresting, and Stone's stylised direction becomes downright laughable after about the third or fourth montage of images. And what is all that about with Jon Voight? Is this film supposed to be a self-parody? Sean Penn is okay and Jennifer Lopez is convincing enough but, hello!!! Script, plot...anyone there?

Just see the vastly superior Red Rock West with Nicholas Cage, Dennis Hopper, and the marvelously pure evil J.T.Walsh.
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If I ever meet Oliver Stone.....
PClark8 July 1999
If I ever meet Oliver Stone, I am afraid I am going to beat him over the head with a heavy object, until someone drags me off of his lifeless body. The whole time, I will be repeating the same word over and over - "U-TURN! U-TURN! U-TURN"

I believe Oliver Stone is one of the great directors of his generation. I love off-beat movies, especially those that use dark humor and feature seedy, amoral characters. Everything about this film seemed like it would be a winner. That is, until I actually saw it.

Words can not describe how horrible this film is. The script is pathetic, the acting is offensively poor (especially Sean Penn), there is no pacing to speak of, and what little humor there is suffers from miserable timing. But I could have forgiven all of these flaws, had it not been for the hatchet job of directing turned in by Stone. Oliver Stone is very gifted, but it seems like he just can't help but show off sometimes. This film was a montage of Stone's worst moments. A great director is one who can create compelling images, while making those images seem to naturally flow together into a coherent story. Throughout this film, I got the distinct impression that Oliver Stone was sitting next to me, nudging my shoulder every five minutes and saying "Did you see that! I'm a great director, huh? Just wait to you see the next neat trick I do!" It reminded me of the effort of an arrogant first year film student, not the work of a seasoned, award winning professional.

Billy Bob Thornton and Claire Daynes had a couple of humorous moments, but they could do nothing to stem the tide of this disaster. Oliver Stone should be ashamed of himself.

If you want to watch an Oliver Stone film, watch "Salvador" or "Platoon". Avoid this movie at all costs.
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Like Tarantino, only worse.
luciano-3719 June 2006
This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Sean Penn is stranded in a strange city where everybody seems to realize his problems and his struggle, and insist on being particularly mean to him, just for the sake of being mean.

It is a lot like Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's Vacation or Griffin Dunne in After Hours, in the sense that we watch an incredibly hapless main character go through an incredibly terrible day and we're supposed to call that entertainment. Except that instead of a comedy this one is a mean and boring excuse for a thriller where everybody is weird and bad-ass, so the whole thing reeks of Tarantino or any of those awful El Mariachi sequels.

There are indeed several twists in the plot, but all of them are predictable and absolutely unable to make the film a little interesting. The end doesn't even try to make up for the rest of the experience. It's just as dull and silly.

The only good thing I can say about this film is that the cast is very good. There are lots of good acting, but the story and the overall atmosphere is so brain dead that I couldn't really enjoy the acting.

I always found that Oliver Stone's movies were excessively long-winded and pretentious. Now I read here at IMDb that he "wanted to make a small film that he would enjoy seeing as a teenager". So he is definitely a major idiot, and I will never see any of his movies again.

I give it 3 stars, for the acting. Maybe the actors deserved more for the acting, but they also deserve a penalty for signing up such a bad script.
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anti-soda pop film and the third jake
ThurstonHunger14 March 2004
Every time Sean Penn seems about ready to enjoy a swig of some carbonated heaven, hell unleashes another round of trouble. It is not so much that u-turns abound, the plot is not so much twisted as continually pulling the rug out from underneath the audience.

Perhaps the book connects the dots a bit better, the film relies heavily upon interesting character exaggerations, along with Ennio Morricone (woo hoo!) and Oliver Stone's splashy style.

The color of the film is sweltering as the Arizona sun. There is an outstanding shot, looking up at Penn walking that is then overlapped with a dilating image of the sun. That really stuck with me, very effective. Additionally you get Stone'd with his patented (you can't even call them jump-cuts) slap-cuts. Often in the midst of a barrage of them we also get a camera reeling from side to side. It's as if the camera is sharing the brunt of kicks, cuts and punches that Penn endures.

I wanted to find a deeper level to the film, at times I would think it was a permutation on some Greek myth. A trip to hell, a blind man who sees all, betrayal and rape. Or maybe there is an Apache legend at the root of the film, we get allusions to that culture but nothing more. Again the book may have been able to spend longer in the sun than the camera crew and we the audience could.

You could joke that this is another Oliver Stone film about conspiracies, but these are personal not political conspiracies. We often wind up with a "conspiracy of one," which I reckon is just a lie. Ultimately enough lies are revealed with little or no foreshadowing that you just don't care about the story.

But you may well care about the actors. Just read the cast listing, that's a pretty amazing bunch.

The DVD I rented had no extras. So I'm not sure what happened to Liv Tyler, but for pretty much everyone else involved, this must have been what Halloween was to us as kids. A chance to adopt a crazy costume and run with it.

While others here did not, I definitely enjoyed Jon Voight and his "almost 50% Indian" blind mystic with dead dog. Or maybe not Indian, not-so-blind mystic with a live dog?

A Clare Danes, just the way she walks/skips is a kick. Jennifer Lopez, before J-Lo commodification, is a devilish dish with a deathwish. There is a point where she gets slapped by Sean Penn and her reaction is riveting. Joaquin Phoenix, Nick Nolte, Julie Hagerty, Aida Linares, together they made the freak show in Twin Peaks look like Mayberry RFD.

Sean Penn of course is a tremendous actor, and he almost creates a character we care for. The slap-cuts of him as a tennis pro in California may be the funniest moments in this film. He seems to be destined for desperation, but we get a vague feeling that he's trying to fight that off. He's not the cocksure hard-boiled Jack Nicholson of Chinatown (he gets his fingers not his nose stuck in some pincers), nor is he simply a soft-boiled mealy mouthed punk.

He's somewhere between the frying pan to the fire, and can't even get an ounce of product placement soda on his way.

If you love any of the actors in this, you'll probably want to check the film out...but expect more style than substance. Just the title of the book this is based on makes me think there was a lot more to the story that did not make it to screen. Some of the poisons that run through the story are more toxic than Dr. Pepper. I look forward to reading "Everyone Smokes in Hell" to see what Ridley did in that.

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Toby and Jenny - The only Entertainment
Bird Of Phoenix30 May 2001
This movie was a major disappointment, but with a fantastic cast. I didn't know what to expect when I saw this movie, but I wanted to throw it out the window when I came across the first scene of the dead animals. It was Unnecessary to see Bobby (Sean Penn) running over an animal. Was that needed? Grace (Jennifer Lopez) got on my nerves, didn't like her at all, the performance from Jennifer Lopez weren't all that great either. This movie all in all, was boring. What was good about it? Only one thing, Toby (Joaquin Phoenix) and Jenny (Claire Danes). The only form of entertainment of this Movie. Joaquin surprised me with his small, but outstanding performance. Joaquin and Claire - YOU MADE THE MOVIE! Only with 3 scenes Unfortunately. Otherwise this movie made me sick. It was degrading. I gave it a 3. That goes to Joaquin and Claire!
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Masterfully made film about garbage
matinhat22 February 2000
Oliver Stone has an incredible talent for creating film.But he insists on cranking out meaningless work. It's like looking at a Van Gogh painting of a pile of poop. It's a great looking , masterfully done pile of poop. But in the end, it's still just a pile of poop.
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How could it go so wrong??
mr_me20 April 2006
The cast of this film is amazing, along with a great director, so how did this film turn out to be so unwatchable? None of the blame lies on the actors, although you do wonder why they would sign up for something with such a bad screenplay!

Loathsome characters, dire setting, badly edited and way too drawn out. The soundtrack doesn't help much either, creating a horrible atmosphere. I believe this is Oliver Stones attempt at a Quentin Tarantino move, but fails on so many levels. It's actually depressing to think about, knowing that I wasted two hours of my life watching it. I would love to meet Oliver Stone and beat him over the head with the DVD I wasted £3.99 on.
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