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Four Rooms

A suite of four individual stories:

"Honeymoon Suite: The Missing Ingredient"
Starring Valeria Golino, Ione Skye, Madonna, Sammi Davis, and Alicia Witt
Written and directed by: Allison Anders

"Room 404: The Wrong Man"
Starring Jennifer Beales and David Proval
Written and directed by: Alexandre Rockwell

"Room 309: The Misbehavers"
Starring Antonio Banderas and Tamlyn Tomita
Written and directed by: Robert Rodriguez

"The Penthouse: The Man from Hollywood"
Starring Quentin Tarantino, Paul Calderone, Jennifer Beals
and an uncredited Bruce Willis
Written and directed by: Quentin Tarantino

All segments star Tim Roth as "Ted, the Bellboy"

Essentially, the inhabitants of three of the Four Rooms pose the question to the aforementioned bellboy, "What will you do, and how much will it cost to make you do it?"

As the old year comes to an end in a decrepit old Hollywood hotel, the new bellboy (Tim Roth) begins his hotel-service career by holding down the fort. In no particular order, Ted will deal with a coven of witches, a heart attack, a woman in bondage, a slick-haired gangster, drunk Hollywood producers, a resurrection rite, a seduction, a reenactment of an old "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" TV show, a jealous husband with a gun, Madonna in a skin tight black vinyl (rubber?) gown, an out of control party, naked women, and a very long rambling speech by Quentin Tarantino.

In short, it is a perverted amount of fun. Or a short amount of perverted fun. Very short. It takes a long time to get to each punch line. The segments are talky, and filled with four letter words and sexual innuendo. All lead to some gruesomely funny humor.

Four Rooms is the work of four writer/ directors: Allison Anders (Gas Food Lodging, Mi Vida Loca), Alexandre Rockwell (In the Soup), Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi, Desperado), and Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction). The story goes that they became friends on the festival circuit, and slapped this idea together. If so, slap is the correct description. Each wrote their segment with no knowledge of what the others were doing, and with the exception of Tim Roth as the Bellboy, and Jennifer Beals appearing in two of the four bits, Four Rooms is not more than four so-so stories linked together.

Tim Roth moves in a manner suggesting a marionette with mismatched strings and rubber faced reactions. Tarantino, in his segment, takes pains to describe a old Jerry Lewis film, thus implying that Roth's contortions remind him of Lewis. For me, the movements and vocal responses are more so in the manner of the great English comic Rowan Atkinson (best known for the three "Black Adder" television series on PBS). I prefer Atkinson.

The animated title sequence pretty much lays out the entire movie. From time to time, other bits of animation flit across the screen (with a "consultation" credit to the great Chuck Jones), and occasionally deliver a joke. That's fitting, because most of the jokes are visual.

On the whole Four Rooms is filled with some incredibly bad acting and/or staging -- sometimes performances so bad and/or over the top are deliberate. I'm not sure which it is. The audience and I sat there waiting for the gags. It wasn't an unpleasant experience; there were enough visual puns and truly strange bits to keep chuckles and laughs coming, if that's any indication. For the most part, Four Rooms was no more than a way to kill an afternoon.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Four Rooms, he would have paid . . .


Four bits a story.

Click to buy films starring Jennifer Beals
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