Uma Thurman stars as Sissy Hankshaw, who somehow is a professional hitch-hiker (remember the book is set in the 60's; the movie makes no attempt to let us know exactly what time period this is supposed to be) who manages to get easy rides by sticking out her bulging, grossly large thumb. Yeah, that pulls the guys over every time.
Sissy meets up with an insane slew of Hollywood stars who seem to be doing a special favor for Van Sandt. Meandering around are Roseanne Barr, John Hurt, Keanu Reeves, Crispin Glover, Carol Kane, and...are you ready...Angie Dickinson! For unknown reasons, Sissy hitches a ride to a "feminist ranch" that pampers spa services to rich women. For further unknown reasons, there's a gaggle of "cowgirls" living and working on the ranch, led by Rain Phoenix as "Bonanza Jellybean." What results is nothing...nothing at all. There is not even the slightest story to speak of. The film seems to have been edited with duct tape. Van Sandt reportedly re-edited this film furiously after it was "booed" off of the screen at various premieres. I would love to see what he cut out. He would have been better off just completely scrapping this project.
But Van Sant is all forgiven for this travesty. He has gone on to prove himself as a solid director/producer. "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues" is probably the only Gus Van Sant film that you can get for $2.00 out of a bargain bin at Family Dollar.
This film version doesn't know quite how to play it. There are times when the characters act like 1990's kids, and other scenes that seem to be stuck in the 60's.
As the film opens, Jim (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his best friends are getting plastered by sniffing cleaning fluid. What day and age is this? In the next scene, we see Jim and all of his friends getting prepared for a big game. Mark Wahlberg (formerly "Marky Mark") is astonishing as Mickey, Jim's best friend, who provides pills to the team, resulting in a scene that has become a classic...everyone on drugs attempting to play basketball to the tune of The Doors classic "The End." What destroys this film is that the script falls apart early on and the characters leap from one personality to another..from one situation to another...with no development.
Tons of futile plot twists and confusing musical decades are packed into this film. Neutron (Patrick MacGaw) seems to be the most sensible of the group. He shouts angrily at the ball team for using drugs, YET.. in the scene JUST BEFORE THIS, Neutron is wearing a ski-mask and helps his friends assault an older lady so that they can get cash for heroin. The editing and art direction are deliriously wrong. Before it's all over, Juliette Lewis shows up as a heroin whore, who becomes pure and clean (with no explanation) and tosses pretzels at Leonardo; Ernie Hudson is a black man who plays basketball with Jim, and later tries to come to the rescue when he declares, "You were frozen in the snow like a goddamn fuge-sicle!" Lorraine Bracco ("The Sopranos") goes nuts in the few scenes that she is in. She's screaming at Leo about the pills she found in his room. Bracco wails, "What are you gonna tell me? That they're VITAMINS???" It all ends with Jim going to prison and learning his lesson. There is nothing really wrong with this movie unless you know the real story. Jim Caroll's stunning memoir, "Basketball Diaries," takes you deep into a harrowing world. This movie just barely scratches the surface.
What followed was a sad saga. Pamela Smart, who came from a wealthy family and was always popular, arranged the murder of her husband Greg by hiring four teenage boys to proceed with the murder plot. Billy Flynn was 15 years old and was a student at Winnacunnet High School, where Pam was employed as "media director." Pam encouraged Billy, along with teens Raymond Fowler, JR Lattime, and Patrick "Pete" Randall, to murder Greg. Another student, Cecelia Pierce, 15, worked at Pam's office for school credit and knew all about the murder plot but was skeptical because Pam would just matter-of-factly fill her in on the details as if it was one big joke.