Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
Jackie Brown (1997)
Miramax Home Video | Review by Dan Taylor

Jackie Brown starring Pam GrierEveryone and their mother -- even those critics who agree with my sentiment that this is a half-baked (at best) effort -- keeps touting QT's JACKIE BROWN as a "throwback" to the blaxploitation flicks of the 1970s. Some have gone so far as to suggest that it was simply missing the faded, dull film stock that typified that era of pushers, pimps, ho's, black PIs, and afro'd hustlers. Um, have these people ever seen a 1970s blaxploitation flick?

I have to hand it to ol' QT, though. In this post-PULP FICTION world of fickle press and even-fickler film fans, his next major flick was nothing but a lose-lose situation. One wonders what his next flick -- the long-awaited KILL BILL with Uma Thurman and David Carradine! -- will hold.

This one's another adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel -- again hot with the success of GET SHORTY -- with Rum Punch (the sequel to Switch) getting the treatment. The tale of an airline stewardess (70s fox Pam Grier, in way over her pretty cinematic head) who gets nabbed bringing in cash for a homicidal gun-runner (Samuel L. Jackson phonin' in the "tough motherfuckin' niggah" act from countless other flicks). Other characters in the ensemble-from-hell include a stoner surfer babe (Bridget Fonda), Jackson's jailbird buddie (a low-key to the point of somnambulic Bobby DeNiro), and a miscast Michael Keaton as a Fed who puts Grier in the middle of a plan to nab Jackson. [Ed. Note: Oddly enough, Keaton's character -- again played by Keaton in Full Cameo Mode! -- shows up as big-assed Jennifer Lopez's toss-off love interest in Steven Soderbergh's superior Leonard apad OUT OF SIGHT.]

Yawn...by the time JACKIE BROWN degrades into a generic entry worthy of USA Network we've also been introduced to Max Cherry (Oscar-nominated Robert Forster) as Jackie's bail bondsman/love interest. Jesus, Tarantino even resorts to the same time-jumping mode of his previous flicks, an utter act of desperation considering it comes about 3/4 of the way through the flick's watch-monitoring running time. Thank God for Indiglo!

This is self-absorbed cinema at its very worst. The dialogue is careless and unimaginative, peppered with "motherfucker" and "bitch" at every turn. The performances are more "somebody wants an Oscar" showboating than actual acting. And the soundtrack needlessly punctuates every sneeze, fart, and glance with a 1970s soul track. Blecchhh!

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