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"2 Days In The Valley" Review

 In the wake of groundbreaking independent movies like Clerks, El Mariachi, Reservoir Dogs, and especially Quentin Tarantino's follow-up, Pulp Fiction, Hollywood went on its usual trend-chasing quest to find their own next Kevin Smith, next Robert Rodriguez, and especially next Tarantino and the result was a whole lot of really bad attempts to mimic those successes, all of which failed for the same reason buying Air Jordan's don't allow most people to slam dunk: Dressing like the original isn't the same as being the original.

One of the byproducts of this copycat phase was 1996's 2 Days in the Valley, a completely banal and forgotten-because-it's-forgettable Pulp Fiction-wannabe which squanders a crazily-deep cast on a half-baked Tarantino pastiche and whose only legacy is being the first major role for a 20-year-old South African emigre named Charlize Theron who has a pretty hellacious catfight with co-star Teri Hatcher. 

To explain the plot would spoil the surprises (such as they are), but suffice to say that same as Pulp Fiction's separate stories co-exist in the same shared world where characters intersect at points, the characters of 2 Days almost all end up in the same places by the end. While it's intended to be ironic, it just feels contrived.

From the pair of hitmen (James Spader and Danny Aiello) who murder Teri Hatcher's Olympic skier's ex-husband (Peter Horton) in the opening to the jerky British art dealer (Greg Cruttwell) who berates his poor assistant (Glenne Headly) and whose sister (Marsha Mason, who doesn't have an accent for some reason) and the suicidal TV director (Paul Mazursky) she meets at a cemetery who end up Aiello's hostages to the vice cops who discover the murder (Jeff Daniels and Eric Stoltz) to Spader's girlfriend and honey trap Charlize Theron, they all intersect while Keith Carradine and Louise Fletcher have cameos along the way.

You can't really blame the cast for leaping at what probably sold by their agents as "the next Pulp Fiction" with a modern crime noir plot with twists and turns that echoed Tarantino's masterpiece, but writer-director John Herzfeld is no QT. Primarily a TV director whose previous feature film was the 1983 John Travolta-Olivia Newton-John bomb Two of a Kind (which was airbrushed from his resume when this came out), he simply isn't up to his ambitions, either wordwise or visually. 

While the general plot has potential, it all falls flat and looks like a TV movie. Perhaps if a more talented writer punched up his outline then a better director shot it, 2 Days in the Valley would've been more memorable than Theron's star-making debut. (She's genuinely

To wit, we had wanted to watch this a few weeks ago, but my DVD, which I must've had forever yet never opened, turned out to be a non-anamorphic transfer (meaning on a modern widescreen TV, it appears as a rectangle bordered on all sides by black bars) and that was a non-starter. Only Cinemax had it streaming, but we don't have it. Then YouTube TV had a free weekend and we used it to catch the movie and though we'd seen it when it originally came out, I honestly didn't remember a damn thing about it other than Theron being hot and there being a catfight with Lois & Clark-era Hatcher. I rapidly realized why I'd forgotten it.

Score: 3/10. Skip it and look up Charlize's nude scene on the Internet. 


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