STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $14.97 RATED: R
RUNNING TIME: 98 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: Theatrical Trailer

Sometimes I really hate Quentin Tarantino (and Elmore Leonard to some degree). Not for anything they specifically are responsible for (although I still think we deserve an apology for Jackie Brown [Note from George: ?!]), but because after the success of Pulp Fiction (and Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, Out Of Sight, etc.) a new genre of movie has cropped up. The quirky, crime flick.

“See Jimmy? You’ve got to master the ‘snot dangling’ trick if you want women to like you.”

The problem (and the reason I occasionally harbor my resentment) is that sooooooo many films have come out over the last 10 years in this genre and only a handful get it right. Mostly, we are given crap resembling something exciting and fun. The problem seems to be that many new movies focus on the cast and some dialogue without giving us story and character development.

The Flick

Jeff Goldblum says, “Mr. DiMuzio stop calling me. I know it’s you. If you don’t stop calling me I will hunt you down. I will cut open your stomach and watch you bleed. Do you want that? Stop calling."

Chain of Fools follows the crime blueprint pretty well. A large, diverse cast? Check. Lots of dialogue? Check. Nefarious characters holding guns? Check. A crime gone badly? Check.

Even though it follows the blueprint, something seems to be missing. The sum is not as great as its parts. There is no life, no energy that keeps this movie together. Instead, we have a collection of scenes with a continuing plot line with characters we really don’t care about.

My reaction to Mr. Goldblum.

Ultimately, it lacks a sense of originality. There is nothing we haven’t seen before. Even when it seemingly tries to be original it ends up ripping something off. A sensitive hit man? See Two Days In the Valley. Busty female lead? Watch Out of Sight.

The movie has a basic premise: Kresk (Steve Zahn), a barber who is having problems with his wife, Lara Flynn Boyle, stumbles into information about a robbery Jeff Goldblum has recently committed. Kresk and his friend, Andy (David Cross), try and devise a way to keep the stolen objects for themselves. Of course hit men, cops, doctors, nephews and other disreputable characters get involved along the way.

“Hi, my name is David and I’ll be molesting you today."

Like many of other films of the genre, the biggest strength of the movie is its ensemble cast. Unfortunately, unlike others in the genre, the star power does little more than bolster the above-the-title credits. Salma Hayek, Zahn, David Hyde Pierce and Boyle are all good in their roles. They are nothing special but give OK performances. Some of them have decent size roles (Hayek and Zahn being the leads) and the others, naturally, have less screen time.

Jeff Goldblum, Elijah Wood and Orland Jones are in the better-than-average category. I’m usually not a big Goldblum fan, but here his lackadaisical style and odd dialogue delivery fits in. Wood is very good as the young hit man who needs a friend and Jones’ transvestite nurse is something to behold. Mostly these actors shine a bit brighter because their characters are better than those listed above. Their parts aren’t as big as say Hayek or Zahn, but a few small bits of character development they are given go a long way.

The world from Gary Coleman’s perspective.

Stealing the show (as far as actors are concerned) is David Cross. Cross is currently finding mainstream success with Arrested Development right now. This is great news. He is one of the funniest stand-ups working today and brings an added element of comedy to the roles he is in. In Chain of Fools he plays a grown-up Boy Scout who helps out Zahn. His performance doesn’t save the movie but gives it something worth watching for.

Another thing that most new crime flicks has is a sense of directorial style. As viewers we see the style that Tarantino put into Pulp Fiction or Soderbergh into Out of Sight or Ocean’s Eleven. Chain of Fools, although directed adequately, seems like a hodgepodge of directing styles.

"No, seriously, I would. I would pay to see Oprah and Anne Nicole Smith in a Jell-O Wrestling match."

That’s because it is. Chain of Fools was directed by Traktor. Never heard of him? That’s because he doesn’t exist. Traktor isn’t a director, but a stable of directors (200 or so) that all work under the same name. That’s like saying an 80s movie stared “The Brat Pack.” Which members were included is really anyone’s guess.

As best I could tell (from a posting on Amazon) Chain of Fools was directed by two members of Traktor. The result is an uneven mesh. Sometimes the dialogue between characters comes across really well. Other times it is stiff and forced. Sometimes the pacing in a scene is dead on, other times… not so much. I don’t know if one of the two was just a better director than the other or if they had their own specialties, but together they didn’t quite gel.

The best thing I can say about Chain of Fools is that it is just average. It retreads over ground that cinematically we have seen time and time again. It isn’t enough to throw out a bunch of actors with sometimes good dialogue if the overall story and character development isn’t there to support them.

5.5 out of 10

Steve Zahn’s reaction to National Security.

The Look

The film looks OK – nothing special. It isn’t grainy and looks better than your typical low-budget television show, but nothing special to note.

5 out of 10

“Oh my God! That’s the last time I trust the lady at the Clairol counter."

The Noise

It is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. It sounds… nice. The sound itself is pretty underwhelming. The dialogue can be heard and that’s all that’s needed.

5.5 out of 10

This is one of the most horrifying things I’ve seen in a movie.

The Goodies

I feel insulted when the only feature is a trailer. If this disk was bare I would know that Warner Home Video didn’t want to spend any additional money on it. I could be OK with that. Instead they said, “Sure, let’s put a little something toward it” and the only thing they could come up with was one trailer. Insulting.

1 out of 10

This is another.

The Artwork

Good, pulpy artwork. This film is sold by the cast that appears in it and the artwork highlights that fact. Get everyone together and throw their names up above the title and hope those who pass by pick it up. If it was sitting in the Wal-Mart $5 bin I’d probably throw it in the cart.

7 out of 10

Overall: 4.6 out of 10