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The Mexican
2001 - R - 123 Mins.
Director: Gore Verbinski
Producer: John Baldecchi
Written By: J.H. Wyman
Starring: Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, James Gandolfini, Gene Hackman
Review by: John Ulmer
   
What do you get when you combine two of Hollywood's most famous sex symbols, the director of "Pirates of the Caribbean" and Mexico? Apparently, an overlong, boring mix of comedy, romance and violence -- which, in this case, is a rather lackluster result considering the potential.

Jerry (Brad Pitt) is one of the most inept criminals in history. Five years ago he crashed into the back of a crime lord's car and, as a result, found himself working off the accident by running errands. Jerry's last retrieval before retirement involves skipping the border into Mexico, finding a rare and beautifully crafted pistol (The Mexican), returning it to Margolese (Gene Hackman) and walking away from everything happily. But Jerry's girlfriend, Samantha (Julia Roberts), is tired of Jerry's continual lying and criminal feats, so she dumps him and heads for Las Vegas.

After arriving in Mexico unscathed, Jerry soon finds himself at the wrath of thugs, murderers and hit men intent on stealing The Mexican from him. Meanwhile, Samantha finds herself taken hostage by a gay hit man with a heart named Leroy (James Gandolfini of "Get Shorty" and TV's "The Sopranos"), who -- by following all of the Hollywood cliches -- is an amiable, likable guy who wouldn't harm a fly.

The advertising for "The Mexican" had it all wrong. The studios advertised it as a sweet, funny comedy starring two of Hollywood's biggest stars. The major cop-out is that Pitt and Roberts share most of the film far apart from each other -- which isn't a huge problem anyway, as it provides a pleasant twist on the repetitive buddy formula. But the movie's twisting, turning, violent, harsh style soon grows weary -- especially as the second hour draws nearer. The end almost redeems the rest of the film, but not quite.

"The Mexican" is primarily interested in doing things that have already been done before, such as culture clashing. Take, for instance, the scene where Jerry spends a good minute or so trying to tell a band of traveling hombres that he needs a ride to the nearest town. Somehow, Jerry confuses "carro" for "deniro" and the driver's eyes suddenly light up. "Robert De Niro?" he asks with a big gap-toothed grin. Another joke that indicates foreign countries know more about Hollywood than actual language. Har-har. It'd be funny if it hadn't been done before.

If you're looking for something harsh, "The Mexican" may very well be too sweet. And vice versa. The movie is too wish-washy -- sometimes it wants to be the next gritty comedy ("Trainspotting") and sometimes it's aiming for cute gimmicks and completely silly characters.

And then, even worse than trying jokes and failing, "The Mexican" never even strives to give us funny moments. In that scene where Jerry tries to hail a ride to the next town, the punchline is never delivered. All road travel movies are about confusion, usually resulting in two people misunderstanding each other. What should have happened is this: Jerry has a hard time explaining to the Mexican driver that he wants a ride. Finally, they both understand each other, and Jerry thinks everything is OK, but soon finds himself being left in the dust by the car, which continues driving on. Because confusion is funny, and "The Mexican" never understands this. That is one of its most fundamental flaws.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

 
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