John Travolta

Pulp Fiction

Year: 1994
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary


There was a time when I thought Quentin Tarantino had played all his cards and this was the best one on the table. I began to believe that whatever made Tarantino so successful was simply his collaboration with Roger Avary. I have since learned the err of that belief but for nearly ten years I developed and held tight to that line of thinking. At a young and influential age I fell in love with Tarantino’s films and had to wait for an appallingly long time with nothing but what I found to be the incredibly disappointing Kill Bill films. Those films, after all, were simply a sub plot from this film. When all he could do in that time was make a film based on a line from his most popular film I took it as a sign. In this film Uma Thurman’s character was on a pilot TV show thats plot was basically the story of Kill Bill. However, in the years since Inglourious Basterds we have seen that I was wrong all along and just a bitter fan getting pissy about wanting something new and incredible to see.

Tarantino has always had a mind for writing snazzy dialogue and it is on full display in this film. From the opening scene in the restaurant this movie immediately grabs your attention and then takes advantage of it with a charming scene of two hit men casually carrying out their jobs on a group of targets. Tarantino is a perfect example of why writing matters. He has always been successful delivering us shock in awe but the base of what makes him great is his writing. From there it goes up to his work behind the camera and if there is one flaw in him it’s his determination to get in front of the camera himself. I thought he was good in Reservoir Dogs and good in this film but I think he stretches it too much. I think it’s obvious Tarantino is a cool guy to meet and people are drawn to him in the business. Every one of his films has been cast with not simply a big actor but a group of them with others clamoring for cameos. I remember hearing somewhere along the way that he would make friends easily with actors and offer them parts in his next movie. Regardless how it happens I have always loved directors who worked with larger casts and Tarantino is one of the reasons I have that preference.

I heard once that this was the film that revived John Travolta’s career and I know that’s true because he preceded it with a third Look Who’s Talking film. If that isn’t something you do only when your career is in the dumps I don’t know what is. I think that is interesting because this role wasn’t even originally intended for him. If I’m not mistaken I think the role was supposed to go to Michael Madsen but he had a scheduling conflict. I can say honestly that I think Travolta was great in this movie and it seems to fit with film history that he is dancing on screen again in such a comeback. Nevertheless, Michael Madsen would he been better. There is nobody in the business cooler or colder than Mr. Blonde. Had he actually played his counterpart to Vic Vega his whole career may have been different and for the better. Movies didn’t get enough of Michael Madsen; he should have had a better agent in the 90s. The only problem is that the character of Vincent Vega appears befuddled and confused now and again, he gets killed by leaving his gun in the kitchen and well….he shot Marvin in the face. I couldn’t see Michael Madsen being so foolish. Plus, junkies are never cool, I think Vincent Vega using heroin makes him a liability more than an asset to a criminal organization and that drops his cool factor significantly. Heroin users aren’t cool; they’re afflicted with a problem that will eventually drive them to desperation.

This movie sports many cameos but one of my favorite of all time is the one performed by Christopher Walken. I am a huge fan of Walken and this film may very well be the reason why. Nobody has a cadence like Walken; his voice is great for comedians doing impressions. He has a presence about him, and he makes every film he is a part of better. Speaking of guys who make every film better, Steve Buscemi also sports a cameo in this movie. I love seeing Buscemi in anything but when he makes such a brief appearance in this film I just feel cheated.  Another cameo that shouldn’t go unmentioned is that of Peter Greene, which in truth shouldn’t be called a cameo but a part. Greene, like Madsen, is an actor that never got enough screen time. He has a sinister look about him, perfect for the part of Zed.

As it’s time to speak of Jed, Bruce Willis needs be mentioned. I have grown up as a fan of one of the greatest action heroes of my time. John McClain, Korben Dallas, and Joe freakin Hallenbeck for cryin out loud. Who better to wield a samurai sword against sex criminals? Bruce Willis embodies what a badass is supposed to be through my eyes that grew up in the nineties. In truth, this has never really been my favorite role of his, but under most circumstances I have always felt like Willis could do no wrong. I tend to pull for the mobsters in these types of films and Willis is as close to a good guy as it gets in this movie. The mobsters are great though, Ving Rhames easily gave his finest performance as Marsellus Wallace. Never quite understood why the boss was picking up the coffee in the scene when he crosses paths with Butch but otherwise he brings it as a powerful and intimidating bad guy. The kind of guy you definitely don’t want to drag down into the basement of sodomy and do things to.

While I feel like Travolta’s Vega is a bit on the goofy side as a hitman I think Samuel L. Jackson is the complete opposite as Jules. Jules is such a cool and compelling character that it could be argued that Jackson has cashed in on it more than 20 times over. I am a huge fan of Jackson but it is very often when I feel like he is simply doing his Jules from Inglewood routine. He gets loud, uses some profanity, and then something crazy happens. I still love it though, in fact I own Snakes on a Plane for no other reason than I love Samuel L Jackson being himself. The role of Jules was specifically written for Samuel L. Jackson after he failed to land a role he auditioned for in Reservoir Dogs so I think there is a lot of him in this character. Jackson has over 160 credits as an actor and continues to work at a rate that barely anybody can keep up with. The majority of those roles started piling up after this film. With “great fury and powerful vengeance” he took the industry by storm after his Oscar nominated role as Jules and there is no end in sight to his success.

This is the type of movie that offers a lot of talking points but I don’t feel the need to rehash old conversations because it is all out there now. We know that Jules’ biblical speech was written for the film and not specifically taken out of the Bible. We know there was nothing specifically in the briefcase. To which the answer never seems good enough for people, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out Tarantino is still to this day badgered about that question. Theories include the soul Marsellus and even the diamonds stolen in Reservoir Dogs, but it has been said a dozen times by Tarantino and Avary both that the contents of the box were specifically left up to the viewer. We have an eye now for the Tarantino brands like Big Kahuna Burger and Apple cigarettes. I love the type of director Tarantino is and if he wasn’t such a genius people wouldn’t continue to talk about these things after over 20 years. He is making some great movies these days but this one will always be one of his greatest.

I love how he films these independent stories that are all random but tie together in the end. I love how it comes full circle with the robbery of the restaurant. Amanda Plummer is shocking with her sudden ferocity and so vulnerable in the end when the heat it turned up. I think it is such a compelling performance. Tim Roth is great too as the level headed stick up man. In limited screen time Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are able to convey such a powerful and interesting relationship. It’s great written dialogue and great acting all around. The “Bad Motherfucker” wallet that Pumpkin has to fish back for Jules actually belonged to Quentin Tarantino. I actually have one myself that Amber got me as a gift a few years ago. I keep it as a joke with a younger license inside with things from the past. The way I see it that younger version of myself may have been a “Bad Motherfucker” but these days I’m a domesticated husband and father so I keep it simply for the novelty of it and to joke about from time to time.

I haven’t mentioned two of the most important people in this film but let me explain why. I am not and have never been a fan of Uma Thurman. While I’ll admit she is great in this movie I haven’t thought Mia’s character was anything exceptional. I detest the use of heroin and her character’s OD scene doesn’t impress me as it might others. She looks really cool with the short black hair but I’m just not into it. Tarantino obviously likes her a lot though as he used her in Kill Bill and continues to allude to a third film as well. The Kill Bill movies are absent from our collection and normally I would buy such a film specifically to write about it here but I simply won’t have them in my collection. With the ease of Amazon Prime many unlikely titles have made it into the collection in recent years but at Kill Bill I draw a line. Those movies are garbage and I will not give in simply for the sake of how awesome Tarantino was and is again with new success.

The other I’ve failed to mention was that of Harvey Keitel. Nothing against him but I have always felt like the Wolf was a little overdone. I think the character is really cool, but much like Uma, I’m just not into it. Keitel is as much the reason for the success of Tarantino as anybody though so he is due plenty of respect. If I’m not mistaken he was the first actor to get behind Tarantino and had a lot to do with getting the wheels rolling on Reservoir Dogs. The role of the Wolf was specifically written for him and it’s a really cool role. I just never felt so impressed about this freaky fast Mr. Fix Anything guy. I do want to believe that guy is out there utilized by criminal organizations because it’s such a cool idea but I feel like a guy who shows up in the AM wearing a tuxedo is just too much. Are to believe this totally efficient guy is also pulling all nighters with the sophisticated crowd that parties in formal wear? I may love this movie, but even as an easily influenced adolescent obsessed with this movie I found it a bit silly back in the day.

This is a movie that has survived in popularity for an awfully long time and anybody that watches it understands why. I have a memory that has never left in which my future step mother talked about this film and the things she had heard about it swearing to never watch it. It was the syringe scene she mentioned specifically. That memory always makes me laugh a little because this movie is not for the faint of heart. There are people like my step mother out there that simply cannot handle a movie like this and I find it comical in a strange way. For the rest of us though, this is really something to enjoy. You can’t call yourself a movie buff without a healthy dose of viewings on this one. It’s a classic that will continue to be popular for years to come and influence countless more rebellious youths as it once did to me. This movie is without doubt worth your time over and over again.

NEXT MOVIE: Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Look Who’s Talking

Year: 1989
Directed By: Amy Heckerling
Written By: Amy Heckerlng


This movie does not belong in this collection of films.  It is here for one and only one reason; we had babies of our own.  I would have never in a million years purchased this film but I caught it on TV one day when our first born was just a toddler.  Suddenly this really stupid movie seemed like the funniest thing I had ever seen.  To me, that made it worth owning.  Sometimes perspective is everything and makes all the difference in the world.

So much for perspective, I have now finished watching this movie again for the first time in a few years and all I can say is I was really caught up in the moment when I decided to buy it.  I think it just hit me at the right time and I thought much too highly of it when I saw it on a shelf somewhere.  The truth is I have always enjoyed going to the store and buying movies to add to our collection.  The problem over the last few years is that I own nearly everything I ever loved and new movies are often out of the price range I find acceptable for DVDs these days. I miss finding new additions that I could snatch up and add to the shelf so sometimes I find myself reaching and buying movies that aren’t worth a damn.  This is one of those cases I’m afraid, I said it even before watching it again; this movie flat out does not belong.

Do I even bother spending the time to write about this movie? It has its moments here and there that are funny if you have experience with babies and small children but otherwise it is a complete waste of time.  John Travolta’s career had fallen straight into the crapper and if nothing else this franchise did do something to keep him going until he got his role in Pulp Fiction and got his star power back. He made three of them after all and they seemed to get progressively worse capping off with the most ridiculous excuse for a sequel ever in which the dogs were doing the talking. Despite all that if it kept him afloat long enough to recapture some stardom it at least matters for something.

I was too young to really get into Cheers when it was the hottest thing on TV so Kirstie Alley has never meant much to me.  To be perfectly honest she did nothing in this film to win my favor either.  I think she has a really whiny voice, and a whiny personality to go along with it.  My wife is a big fan and pulled for her on Dancing with the Stars but I have never seen the appeal. I feel it’s necessary to mention Bruce Willis in this review because he is a big name attached to the film.  As the voice of Mikey he certainly made that sperm/baby/toddler sound pretty cool but I don’t think this film was ever listed on his resumé.

I am a fan of Amy Heckerling and think she is a talented filmmaker.  Despite my opinion about this film I still think she did many good things with it.  She wrote really clever dialogue for the baby and toddler to think and I think she captured what so many of us know to be true early in parenthood.  I specifically like her intro to the film with the egg making its way into place and the scene in which sperm Willis manages to beat out all of his competition to inseminate the egg.  I will always be a fan of Heckerling though because she made one of my favorite high school films, Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

I think I have said too much about this film already and I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see it.  If you are a parent then there is plenty here to laugh at should you catch it on TV one day but overall I don’t think this movie is worth your time.


I remember watching this movie when I was little. My mom had a collection of movies that I would watch when I visited her and it included this one. She had a thing for both Travolta and Alley. I used to laugh and laugh. It’s also one of those movies that you watch as a kid and don’t fully understand the opening scene. Once you are an adult, you realize what it is and it becomes so much more…you know I don’t even know the words for the feeling. Maybe awkward? In any case I still love this movie and that’s probably because I have kids of my own now. Never been a big lover of Travolta, but I like his greaser-esque role in this movie.


This poster came out in 89, so I think it is actually doing a pretty good job of being clean and to the point. It also hits the target market: parents. If you don’t have kids then you probably don’t understand why the kid is chewing on the letters of the title. Until you have kids, you don’t understand the innate need they all have to put every last thing they grab into their mouths. And who can really blame them, what with all the bones forcing their way through gummy tissue. This poster hits the target market, keeps the typography and imaging clean and simple, and overall I think it does quite an incredible job. Especially for this caliber movie and time period. Kudos designer.

NEXT MOVIE: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2003)

Broken Arrow

Year: 1996
Directed By: John Woo
Written By: Graham Yost


When we reviewed The Last Boy Scout I mentioned that when you have seen one action movie like this you have practically seen them all.  The only differences being who played the hero and how many bad guys they killed.  This movie is really no different, Christian Slater is the hero and he kills plenty of bad guys in a movie that is about nothing more than gun play and explosions.  This one was directed by John Woo and that does give it a slight edge I think.  I have a special place in my heart for these kind of mindless action movies. They were the kind of movies my parents watched and while I grew to demand more to be entertained I still enjoy these.  I’ve actually liked most of “the Die Hard scenario” movies that came out during the nineties and I like this one too, Die Hard in the Desert.

With John Woo movies you can count on two things.  It will be pointless with over the top action, but everything will look really cool. Woo makes cool action movies and for what they lack in plot they more than make up for with the exaggerated action. Woo also usually has a good score to his films that make them seem more dramatic and mask the fact that there isn’t really any point to the film.  This one is a perfect example; it’s the Die Hard scenario and about nothing more than guns and explosions, peppered with enough fight scenes to keep things interesting. I love the intro boxing scene and how it was choreographed.  These guys aren’t really even boxing in the traditional sense. They are just beating the hell out of each other, for fun, as all friends like to do. Christian Slater literally runs down a jeep on foot in this movie, and as he dives for the vehicle he also catches a gun in mid-air.  That’s John Woo for you.  Oh yeah it is totally ridiculous but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it looked cool and I was into it when it was happening.

Another thing about John Woo, he always saw the value John Travolta had as a bad guy.  I think Travolta has had a really interesting career and I have always liked him despite his personal issues.  Being both a Scientologist and the type of possible homosexual that forces himself on other men he doesn’t really seem like the kind of guy I would like personally.  Yet I think he has made some great movies and played some good roles. He has been around forever and done nearly everything, but I have always liked him best in this kind of role.  I think he is better as a bad guy like this one as opposed to Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction. Great movie and great role that put him back on top but I always thought he looked ridiculous with that hair, and he was a junkie.  The film was great because of the other incredible characters and performances but that is all beside the point. He is getting old now and it’s going to be harder for him to continue getting significant roles. He hasn’t aged as well as his Scientologist counterpart, but he is much older and we may see Tom have the same problem soon. Travolta will be playing the part of John Gotti in an upcoming film about Gotti that was a big priority of the studio at first but seems to keep having hiccups. I don’t know about that casting but I do sincerely hope Travolta blows me away with the part and gets back his credibility.

Christian Slater has really got to miss the 90s right? I have never been a big fan of his Jack Nicholson wanna be style of acting but he is not that bad and I have liked him here and there. Slater tried his hand real hard at this genre during this time.  It was an interesting time because Schwarzenegger and Stallone were just starting to get too old and soon anybody was being cast in this kind of part.  Funny to think that over fifteen years have passed and they are both still trying to cling to these kinds of roles as action heroes.  Even though one has served as Governor and the other has been busted but is still obviously juicing to maintain his physique. As for Christian Slater I do like him in this movie. In truth anybody could have played the part and I don’t know that he brought anything special to the part but still, he was alright.

While I don’t know that it is really necessary I still feel I have to mention Howie Long in the review of this movie. The man may not have been the greatest actor but dammit he did his best and he fit the role perfectly for this movie.  As a huge NFL fan I think Howie is awesome.  He had a great career playing for the Raiders and I think he is a vital part of FOX’s pregame show.  He has also produced two sons that have been drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.  His oldest son Chris Long went second over all a few years ago and just this year his son Kyle was drafted in the middle of the first to Chicago. Also worth mentioning is Delroy Lindo but only because he always brings it in roles like this.  I am not really a fan of Lindo but he has a great authoritative voice that makes him fit well in many movies.

This is the kind of movie that could only be made in the pre-Jack Bauer world.  Let’s face it, Christian Slater is no Jack Bauer and Travolta should count his lucky stars that he didn’t have to deal with Kiefer when he stole nuclear weapons.  Slater doesn’t even torture him, just gets his ass beat before getting lucky and winning.  Travolta got off easy.  Still I like these kinds of mindless action movies and I like this movie.  It’s part of a time in film when this was a scenario for success regardless of whether it was a good movie or not and I miss those times now.  As an audience I think we demand much more this day and age.  We have to be emotionally invested and shocked nowadays, but maybe that’s just me.  I think the time for this type of movie has passed but despite that opinion Liam Neeson has somehow had success making TWO Taken films.

I’ve gone much farther than this movie deserves but found myself in the position to really go the extra mile, it’s just unfortunate it came with such a silly movie.  Yet there is always a time and a place for a film like this.  If you find yourself ready for something pointless and loud then this is the movie for you.  The movie runs a bit too long in my opinion but for the first half I am always into it. That isn’t to say the second half is bad, but it’s just more of what you have already seen.  I have just evolved as a viewer and need more from a film these days.  So I don’t know that I can say this movie is worth your time, but maybe it is worth some of it, it’s an easy way to kill some free time if nothing else.


Year: 1997
Directed By: John Woo
Written By: Mike Werb and Michael Colleary


When I was in my early teens this was probably one of the coolest movies I had ever seen.  It didn’t seem so cheesy then, and fifteen years ago this idea seemed like maybe something we were close to achieving in the real world. It all seems a bit silly watching it now, but this movie does bring back fond memories for me, and it was intricate in my evolving love of action films.

The world was so different in 1997, yet still the same.  It was an interesting time, but I can’t really remember the time period well enough to talk intelligently about it. I was 13 then, and that seems like a million years ago now.  I do remember loving this movie though, and that it was a hit.  In a year like 1997 this was a successful film.  It didn’t matter how ridiculous some of the film is, it made a lot of money despite that.  It might be ludicrous that every time these guys shoot at each other something explodes, and it might not be possible for Castor Troy to smoke a cigarette with no lips. These two guys might have serious and unprecedented operations that they are immediately healed from but none of that matters.  All that matters is how cool everything in this movie is. At least consider how awesome it must have been to a thirteen year old in 1997 watching it.  Castor Troy dressed as a priest and seducing a chorus girl is awesome, his two golden guns are awesome, above all else he is a cool and calculating villain and that is awesome too.  I think Nicolas Cage‘s performance as Troy in the earlier part of the film was his best role of the “trilogy.” Cage made three action films in a row during this time with The Rock and Con Air coming out right before this one and the three films are known as Cage’s “action trilogy”.  Cage has an interesting ability to deliver ground breaking performances in one film then turn around and make the stupidest wastes of time out there.  This was fifteen years ago though, and all three of these action films were well received.  Cage’s star was shining bright in 1997 and no matter how absurd some of his movies were people still paid to see them. I particularly like this one and The Rock, I did like Con Air for a time but grew to find it too cheesy.  They were all cheesy, but the action made up for it, it was a time that only explosions mattered, before heavy duty CGI and excessive green screens.

Ah, and now to John Travolta. Who I happen to think was great in this film, and many others.  I have always been a big fan and the news coming out this week has been quite the shocker.  I’m not surprised despite my admiration of his films.  If nothing else, Grease and Saturday Night Fever should have thrown up some red flags in the 70s right? Travolta is currently facing two lawsuits charging him with sexual misconduct against men.  It has opened the flood gates apparently and similar stories are popping up everywhere. Travolta has been around forever and is actually known for having one of the more long lasting relationship in Hollywood with his wife Kelly Preston so these are really serious allegations. Personally, I don’t care if Travolta is gay, but sexual misconduct is what it is and I hope the allegations aren’t true.  I think Travolta plays a great bad guy and obviously John Woo does too because he has used him in that capacity a couple of times, no pun intended. Travolta and Cage both have to play two different parts in this film and I think they both do a great job with the role reversal.  Gina Gershon is also worth mentioning in one of the female leads.  She is so smoking hot and never worked enough, she should have been cast in so many more roles.

John Woo directed this film and he was a really notable action director at the time. Although he has great vision and imagination when it comes to action, it is all so over-exaggerated and foolish.  To give him some credit, he did a great appreciation for style and good monologues that he used in a fantastic way.  Those proved to suffice during his heyday. John Woo’s movies might seem silly now but they meant a lot to me when I was younger. They were good fun mindless action movies to just sit back and enjoy when there was nothing better to do.

This movie is really really cheesy from beginning to end but it still has its merits and is still thought of favorably. I think this movie is worth your time, if nothing else let it take you back to a different time, a time before the world changed with the internet, terrorism, and the 24/7 news.


I find it really ironic that we are at this movie when John Travolta is under so much fire for sexual harassment. I don’t think I ever really saw this movie until I was out of college and caught it on television one day. I thought it seemed pretty cool and interesting. It’s not a movie that is like other movies. But, because we are snobs here, I have to say after watching it for the blog, I am thoroughly unimpressed. Everything seems implausible to me and makes me laugh. I’m sorry, but an action movie that makes me laugh during the serious scenes isn’t doing something right. This movie is cheesy at best and if you want to waste some time on it go ahead.

NEXT MOVIE: Fargo (1996)