Film Scouts Reviews

"2 Days in the Valley"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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August 16, 1996

If Robert Altman and Quentin Tarantino tried to copy each other badly, the result would be "Two Days in the Valley". Lots of people's lives intersecting with lots of guns provide a somewhat entertaining ride to nowhere in particular. First, James Spader and Danny Aiello team up to blow away Peter Horton, who is the ex- husband of Teri Hatcher. Then Paul Mazursky contemplates suicide and meets Marsha Mason. Her brother is Greg Cruttwell, an art dealer whose assistant is Glenne Headly. And Eric Stoltz is getting a massage while his partner Jeff Daniels reads a letter. Sure, it seems messy, but you figure and so do I that eventually some sense will come of it. Some does, but not as much as is needed. There is plenty of chocolate on the outside but no chewy on the inside of this bon-bon. There is no center; all the performances are OK, but no one takes charge. Maybe it is supposed to be Danny Aiello, since he is a pretty sympathetic sort, but he is never given any access to center stage. Maybe it is supposed to be James Spader, since he is the not very likable sort, but he is too busy being all that bad.

I wouldn't recommend "Two Days in the Valley" unless you are a film student who wants to contemplate the meaning of Mazursky using his Emmy Award statue as a toilet paper holder. Or why Mazursky is playing a character way too close to his real life roller-coaster ride in acting/directing/producing from "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" in '69 to "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" in '86. Or how movies like "Get Shorty" and "The Player" and "Two Days" link violence and brutality with the process of movie making. Sounds like a doctoral thesis. But in this case it just doesn't make for a cohesive movie. What happened to Jeff Daniel's character? Did they forget him in the third act? Or did his "happy ending" end up on the cutting room floor? It sure felt like something got left there. Rated R.

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