1998, R, 85 min. Directed by Bob Koherr. Starring Tommy Davidson, Julie Brown, Paul Dinello, Sandra Bernhard, Dan Castellaneta, Colleen Camp, Kevin Meaney, Pamela Segall, Robert Costanzo.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Sept. 4, 1998
There is a popular line of metaphysical thought that says each person has their own personal heaven or hell preordained by the powers that be. Each heaven is different in its own way, and each hell is unique to its owner. My hell involves Judy Tenuta, Sandra Bernhard, and repeated viewings of this film. That being the case, I'm thinking of joining the priesthood, or, at the very least, the Peace Corps. Something, anything, to keep a civil distance between Them and Me. It's rare that a film can enact a spiritual change of this magnitude in a reviewer, but Plump Fiction, with its audacious inanity and harrowing lack of smarts, accomplishes the trick in spades. In a summer filled with truly awful parodies, this is the nadir of the cheese wheel. Maggoty Brie is more appetizing than this unfunny take on the films of Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone, and even with the considerable talents of Davidson (parodying Samuel L. Jackson's Pulp Fiction character and doing a pretty mean job of it) and Castellaneta (parodying Forrest Gump and doing a really terrible job of it), this is a bloated, one-joke wonder that only makes you wonder why it was made at all. The whole circus smacks of end-of-the-night improvisational shenanigans, after a few too many Jack & Cokes and bong hits, and although it probably seemed like a good idea at the time, so did crossing the Donner Pass. Monday morning quarterbacking aside, Plump Fiction has a palpable air of desperation to it, partially engendered by Bernhard, Tenuta, and Brown's whinnying, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink histrionics, and partially by its overreaching silliness. It's not just bad, it's painful and occasionally offensive to those over the age of .05. Granted, a few clever gags slip in from time to time -- Kane Picoy manages a nifty, spot-on Christopher Walken impersonation and Segall has Juliette Lewis down pat -- but the overall effect is of watching a sinking ship founder for 90 minutes minus James Cameron. The water's cold, and there are lampreys in it. Bits from Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Natural Born Killers and others find their ways into the mess, but all are sloppily parodied and fail to let the air out of anybody's stuffed shirt. On the plus side, the film is preceded by an inspired, 3-minute short that blithely sends up Swingers and Sling Blade, called -- wait for it -- Swing Blade. Directed by Nicholas Goodman, it's just enough to whet your appetite for more cool comedy and absolutely no indication of the horrors that follow. I'll be good from now on, just no more of this, please.