Rating: 2 out of 5
I wish I could say I was let down by Four Rooms, but given the sheer volume of just awful buzz about the film, I think I got what I was expecting: an over-anticipated, overworked movie that was full of talent but devoid of taste.
It starts off bad enough. As the credits announce the four writer/directors (Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino), a cartoon sequence plays over them, in the tradition of cinematic masterpieces like Mannequin. This sets the stage: New Year's Eve at Hollywood's Mon Signor Hotel and only one bellhop (Tim Roth), and believe me, it's a rillyrilly wacky place. The film then launches into the first of four 30ish-minute shorts, one by each director.
The first segment is Anders's "The Missing Ingredient," about a coven of witches (including Madonna, Valeria Golino, and a mostly topless Ione Skye) who don't quite have everything they need to return their petrified goddess to flesh. Cut together like an episode of "Love, American Style," this vignette is just plain goofy and without point. Anders had never made a good movie before this, and she still hasn't, thanks mainly to lots of rillyrilly bad dialogue and acting. I heard a rumor that the actual ending to this episode is after the closing credits, but I'm not sure it's worth sticking around for.
The worst of the bunch is Rockwell's "The Wrong Man," wherein a sadomasochistic guy with a gun terrorizes his wife (Jennifer Beals) and bellhop Ted. I never did determine what this episode was all about, and judging from the silent audience, no one else did either. (Hint: Beals and Rockwell are married.) Rillyrilly bad music and dialogue also abound.
Robert Rodriguez's "The Misbehavers" is poor, but at least provides a few chuckles. Here, Rodriguez gets to take his comic strip, about some naughty kids, from his old college newspaper (where yours truly also worked) into the exciting world of live action. Dad Antonio Banderas is funny, but otherwise there's not much that's good here, although nothing is rillyrilly bad. Don't forget to smile during the humorous finale and appreciate the prodigious amounts of vomiting in this episode.
Wrapping up the film is the patriarch of the bunch, Tarantino himself, with a ripoff of an old "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" titled "The Man From Hollywood." Actually, for 25 minutes the characters (Tarantino, Beals, Paul Calderon, and Bruce Willis) moan and scream a lot. Then, for 15 minutes they rip off Hitch's "The Man From Rio," where Peter Lorre bets that Steve McQueen can't light his lucky lighter 10 times running. If he wins, Lorre gives him his car. If he loses, McQueen loses his pinky. Same deal in Tarantinoland, and the very very end pays off this otherwise drab episode. Notably poor here are the rillyrilly bad acting and editing and a rillyrillyrilly bad performance by Willis.
Watching the finale is almost worth sitting through the last hour of the film, but Anders and Rockwell should have been cut loose years ago when this project was dreamed up. Very disappointing is Tim Roth's ubiquitous overacting and just plain constantly annoying presence. Two stars pretty much cover all the four rooms...generously.
Tarantino loves on Roth.
Facts and Figures
Run time: 98 mins
In Theaters: Monday 25th December 1995
Box Office Worldwide: $4.3M
Distributed by: Miramax Films
Production compaines: Miramax Films, A Band Apart
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 14%
Fresh: 6 Rotten: 38
IMDB: 6.7 / 10
Cast & Crew
Producer: Lawrence Bender
Starring: Quentin Tarantino as Chester Rush, Antonio Banderas as Man, Jennifer Beals as Angela, Sammi Davis as Jezebel, Amanda de Cadenet as Diana, Valeria Golino as Athena, Lili Taylor as Raven, Patricia Vonne as Corpse, Madonna as Elspeth, Bruce Willis as Leo, Lawrence Bender as Long Hair Yuppy Scum, Tim Roth as Ted the Bellhop, Ione Skye as Eva, Alicia Witt as Kiva, David Proval as Siegfried, Lana McKissack as Sarah, Marisa Tomei as Margaret, Tamlyn Tomita as Wife, Kathy Griffin as Betty, Danny Verduzco as Juancho, Salma Hayek as TV Dancing Girl, Paul Calderon as Norman, Kimberly Blair as Hooker, Marc Lawrence as Sam the Bellhop