Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”

Something about this movie seemed ahead of its time: It had the same ironic detachment that characterized humor of the late nineties. None of the characters seem to matter, because they're all clichéd archetypes, and the movie holds them at an arm's length. Chili Palmer doesn't emerge as a real character, but as a stiff and almost robotic embodiment of "cool," as defined by Hollywood. But he does have a sense of humor, and if the crime world of the movie as seen through his eyes is detached and safe, it is also a place of clowns and degenerates and weirdos, an assortment of great supporting characters made vivid by some brave actors and the snappy Elmore Leonard banter. That same author provided the film with a wonderful assortment of fake-outs and reverse betrayals that keep the movie running strong, like its own self-renewing power source. I just wish the film hadn't been so self-consciously hip: A comedy doesn't need to care about its characters, but it does need to take them seriously if it wants them to generate humor, and this film seems to pose triumphantly beside itself for being so cool. I, for one, was turned off.

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