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Clay Pigeons (1998)
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Review Date: October 11, 1998
Director: David Dobkin
Writer: Matthew L. Healy
Producers: Ridley Scott, Chris Zarpas
Actors:
Vince Vaughn
Joaquin Phoenix
Janeane Garofalo
Georgina Cates
Plot:
Small town America is the setting. Clay (Phoenix) is the innocent young man who gets raveled in a tale of two suspicious deaths in his town. He finds both dead bodies, and suddenly develops an instant following within the FBI. Lester Long (Vaughn) is the stranger in town who befriends Clay, and oozes enigmatic. Dead bodies, twists, turns and bitingly dark comedy ensues.
Critique:
Quirky little small town murder mystery film, generates enough style, plot and original characters to stand out among the umpteen other movies that blazed its trail before it. This film also has an eclectic little soundtrack, with several well-chosen Elvis tunes blaring during some of the most gratifying scenes, but lacks the absolute believability in its so-so ending. Some people may have a bigger problem with its conclusion, but I bought it for the most part, because of the way that the characters had been built up during the entire film.

Vince Vaughn pulls off another dynamic performance as Lester the self-proclaimed "molester", and spices his character up with one of the honkiest laughs this side of Fran Drescher. Joaquin Phoenix also delivers a solid performance as the na´ve country bumpkin caught in a situation highly beyond his limited resourcefulness, and the female vixen in this tale, Georgina Cates, pulls off a great femme fatale whose only reasons for living seem drenched in sex, cigarettes and booze (did I mention sex?). Speaking of cigarettes, I don't think there is one character in this film that doesn't smoke (except the clueless deputy Barney, of course), but then again, I guess that's to be expected from this genre.

The movie also starts off with a really cool tete-a-tete scene and ends with a unique, unbelievable to some, but mostly Hollywoodian conclusion. Overall, I thought the movie worked on most fronts, delivering the ripped off stylish flair from various Coen and Oliver Stone based films (But who doesn't rip off the greats anyway), great performances by all of the main actors and their offspring, an interesting plot involving murders galore, plenty of sexcapades, goofy country folk, and a bizarre yet effective soundtrack to blend it all together. If you liked any of the three films that I mentioned in my introduction, you will most probably enjoy this fable as well, especially if you dig any of the lead actors. Either way, a nacho-chompin' treat indeed!
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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