cranky home
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do         Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

amazon.gif
Top Selling DVD     Books

BLU-RAY DVDs:
50 Shades of Grey
Exodus Gods and Kings
Grand Budapest Hotel
Imitation Game, The
Into the Woods

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Robocop
Selma
Theory of Everything
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
Akira
Avatar
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Bambi
A Bug's Life
Cars
Chronicles of Narnia set
Coraline
Ghostbusters
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Ratatouille
Rio
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
combo
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE

OFCS

Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

 DISNEY PIXAR DVDs
Alice in Wonderland
Bambi
Beauty and the Beast
Bolt
Cinderella
Coraline
E.T.
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Pinocchio
Princess Mononoke
Ratatouille
Rio 
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy

Who is Cletis Tout?

Starring Christian Slater, Richard Dreyfuss, Portia de Rossi and Tim Allen; RuPaul and Billy Connolly
Written and Directed by Chris Ver Weil
website: www.paramountclassics.com

IN SHORT: Almost close to dynamite, but destined for your home viewing pleasure. [Rated R for Language, Some Violence and Sexuality. 93 minutes]

Film makers must have a rock solid sense of security and confidence in their project to label it with a title such as "Who is Cletis Tout?" because such a title leaves them open to the flat out diss, "who cares?" (or worse) from cranky and cynical old farts such as we. Now, in the hottest, muggiest, most disgustingly unpleasant time of the year comes a movie stuffed with character clichés (a hit man with a heart of gold, a forger with morals) and more familiar faces than you can shake a stick at. Frankly, the air conditioning in the theaters is a bonus for those of you who search out Who is Cletis Tout?, a clever and terrific bit of writing, dead on perfect for everyone who must plant in an art house due to allergic reactions to explosions or aliens or spurting spider blood, now flowing in the first run theaters. In the hands of a more experienced director, you'd be flocking to the first run houses to see this film, because that's how good writer Chris Ver Weil has the potential to be. Director Chris Ver Weil, on the other hand, fails to raise the level of play anywhere above a level field. The romantic subplot in his story doesn't bubble and a major bit of suspense saved for the Third Act doesn't even get near a simmer.

Yeah, we know what our trademark reads but we truly do hate it sometimes. Casts that are this good don't come together unless they've seen a script that makes 'em plotz. That being said, we also know about pride and direction skills and the desire to hold on and make your mark with something uniquely yours. Who is Cletis Tout? is Chris Ver Weil's second outing at the helm. His first didn't get out of the film festival circuit. This film, like Tadpole of a couple of weeks ago, will probably see first light in your DVD or VCR.

Directing isn't just a matter of telling actors and cameramen what to do. It is a skill that requires a great visual sense and, in Ver Weil's the case, his visual sense is still in the fingers pounding at his keyboard. Best example comes early in the film, during a flashback sequence in which a magician/mime engineers a one-man diamond heist, with the help of a big red balloon. But you'd never hear about this particular story if a certain hit man named Critical Jim (Tim Allen) wasn't pointing a handgun at the face of a forger named Trevor Finch (Christian Slater) who, in tandem with cellmate Micah Tobias (Richard Dreyfuss), "purchased" new identities with the help of crooked M.E. Dr. Savian (Billy Connolly). One of those identities was a lowlife named Cletis Tout, a video journalist who managed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Micah, by the way, was the magician who heisted and buried the diamonds in that flashback sequence. Now you're caught up.

Filmfan Critical Jim -- hell, if he wasn't whacking the lowlifes he'd be wanting this particular gig -- thinks that Finch is Tout and gives the man 90 minutes to come up with a good enough story to change his mind about pulling the trigger (90 minutes being the amount of time the mobsters have to pay up). The story Finch recounts is the one Micah told him about the diamond heist and bridges the twenty year gap in which little girl Tess, Micah's daughter, has all growed up into the very attractive Portia de Rossi. Tess, obviously, will be the love interest of our soon to be snuffed hero, at least in the story, if not in real life. The clock is ticking, after all.

The film fanatic hitman helps embellish the story -- his dialog seems to consist only of quotes from classic movies -- almost to the point where we don't really know how much is "real" and how much is embellishment. At the center of the pitch are those diamonds, hidden during the flashback and now in a place where retrieval is almost impossible. On the edges are the mobsters who want "Cletis Tout" dead and are too dumb to know that they got it right in the first place (for reasons we won't go into). Holding everything together is the "love story" that just doesn't ignite, and its use of a visual cliché at the film's end is the clunkiest of all nods to old films.

Overall, if the story of Who is Cletis Tout? wasn't such a good one, the fact that this film is so aware of its "reality" as a film would have had us shifting in our seat due to a precocious "look at us we know old films we're so darn clever" attitude that we've suffered through in other films. We don't like "clever," and we appreciate the fact that this script doesn't get all that self indulgent. It fairly reeks of potential. That's a good thing.

Tim Allen doesn't crack a grin in his role as paid killer, and his transformation from comic to hard-core dramatic actor is seamless, as his character actively helps "develop" the ongoing pitch. Slater manages to get a note of desperation across without behaving desperate; his scenes with de Rossi show the spark of chemistry but aren't pushed much farther. Dreyfuss and Connolly are the icing on the cake, in roles that are as supportive as they are important and well played. Additional humor is provided by RuPaul, whose fifteen minutes of fame expired long ago, and whose cross dressing ways are put to good use.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Who is Cletis Tout, he would have paid . . .

$5.00

Who is Cletis Tout? is a simple story told in a pancake flat manner. For those that prefer the arthouse, it's fine. For everyone else, seek it out when it hits the vidstore.

amazon com link Click to buy films starring Christian Slater
Click to buy films starring Richard Dreyfuss
Click to buy films starring Tim Allen
Click Here!

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.