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2 Days in the Valley (1996)
Rated R

Starring: James Spader, Teri Hatcher, and Danny Aiello

Rating:
**
out of
*****

Writer/director John Herzfeld attempts a Tarantino-like movie with 2 Days in the Valley, a disappointing romp through the lives of several seemingly unrelated characters in California's San Fernando Valley. As the movie begins, it seems as if it's something you've stopped to watch while channel-surfing. Initially, you're struggling to make sense of the characters and wondering what the current scene has to do with the last one.

As an example of how initially confusing the movie can be, I offer some of the movie's characters. There's Lee (James Spader), a professional killer who has a fetish for stopwatches, and his seeming buddy, Dosmo (Danny Aiello), a hitman who finds himself at the business end of a pistol several times. Don't forget Becky Foxx (Teri Hatcher), an Olympic skiier who's never finished better than fourth. And, of course, Allan (Gregg Cruttwell), an eccentric art dealer who passes a kidney stone; Roy (Peter Horton), who gets shot in the head, and Wes (Eric Stoltz), a vice cop desperate to work homicide. Teddy Peppers (Paul Mazursky) is a one time Emmy award-winning writer/director who's fallen on hard times. They're all related -- somehow.

Herzfeld's direction and story-telling get the movie going in a confusing but interesting fashion. He provides enough momentum to keep the interest in the possible connections between the characters going until everything becomes clear. However, the problem is that when the connections are revealed they're awfully disappointing and even a bit predictable. One character that I found interesting, Jeff Daniels' Alvin Strayer, disappears in one of the least graceful transitions in the film.

2 Days in the Valley is a movie that strives to be Pulp Fiction but doesn't quite make it. It has the ingredients, but comes off as what can only be described as half-baked.

Trivia: Teddy Peppers, a suicidal writer/director, is played by Paul Mazursky, the writer/director of such films as Scenes from a Mall and Moon over Parador. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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