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Overall Rating

Awesome: 10.42%
Worth A Look: 10.42%
Just Average: 27.08%
Pretty Crappy: 16.67%

4 reviews, 24 user ratings

2 Days in the Valley
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Tedious Tarantino clone."
1 stars

Like a politician near election time, '2 Days in the Valley' tries to be so many things that it ends up not being much of anything. Sometimes it's a self-consciously "hip," quirky crime movie. Sometimes it leans towards tearjerking drama (and falls flat on its face). Sometimes it's funny, most often not. One constant is its lovely cinematography (by Oliver Wood). Another is its utter insignificance.

2 Days was clearly 1996's attempt to strike gold on the West Coast a third time, after 1995's Get Shorty and (of course) 1994's Pulp Fiction. These films boast characters you only meet in movies (or in L.A.), and 2 Days gives us hit men (James Spader, Danny Aiello), vice cops (Eric Stoltz, Jeff Daniels), a suicidal movie director (Paul Mazursky), an Olympic skier (Teri Hatcher), an art dealer with kidney stones (Greg Cruttwell), and a nurse (Marsha Mason). A nurse? What's this, an everyday person? Get her out of here!

The plot, by writer-director John Herzfeld (a veteran TV-movie director whose previous claim to theatrical fame was the awful John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John vehicle Two of a Kind), trips over itself trying to link all these characters. Mostly, it doesn't. The hit men pay a visit to the skier's ex-husband (Peter Horton), looking for money. Spader double-crosses Aiello, who escapes and stumbles onto the art dealer's house. Everybody else gets shoehorned into the plot, largely thanks to coincidence.

Yes, I know: Pulp Fiction would have been nowhere without coincidence. But at least Quentin Tarantino had the courage of his ironic convictions. It didn't matter that we didn't take those plot twists seriously; nothing else in the movie was meant to be taken seriously either. But Herzfeld's ironic detachment falters. He fumbles for pathos in scenes involving the despondent director Mazursky and vice cop Daniels, who misses his little son, taken from him by divorce.

Daniels' character is the film's oddest inconsistency. For most of the movie, the vice cop is defined almost entirely by his obsession with busting a newly opened massage parlor. Why? The parlor doesn't figure in the story. Midway through the film, he's wrapping a birthday gift for his estranged son and reading a letter declaring him unfit to serve on the force. This is the first we hear about either of these problems; it's also the last we see of Daniels. Classic sign of severe pre-release trimming.

The movie works up to a nasty climax that never comes; mostly people just shoot each other, and Teri Hatcher throws herself into a vicious spandex catfight with Spader's squeeze (Charlize Theron). Some guys may find this arousing; I found it embarrassing. John Herzfeld is yet another director who sees women either as violent babes or maternal blankets to keep men warm (for instance, Glenne Headly as the art dealer's assistant, who falls in unlikely love with Aiello).

Two actors rescue '2 Days' from complete tedium. Aiello has fun with his balding, canine-phobic hit man. And James Spader lends the movie more gravity than it earns. He manages to be both threatening and laid-back. But sometimes actors subtly lie back out of a movie they dislike, and I suspect that's what Spader's chilly, detached performance is about. Can't say I blame him.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=637&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/03/07 23:30:11
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User Comments

9/21/17 morris campbell entertaining crime comedy spader & theron are great 4 stars
5/26/15 stanley welles solid, tense entertainment 4 stars
12/19/10 Mike Pulp Fiction knock-off is passable, but missable 3 stars
11/14/05 Indrid Cold Not nearly as hip or funny as it thinks it is. Some cute girls in underwear though. 3 stars
2/09/05 Jeff Anderson Flawed, but undeniably entertaining. Aiello, Spader, & Theron stand out in a good cast! 3 stars
3/30/04 The More You Know Inspired by a better film, Bread and Chocolate, but Valley drew me into it's ups and downs. 4 stars
4/04/03 Jack Sommersby Ditto, Charles. 1 stars
3/06/03 Charles Tatum Tarantino wannabe 3 stars
4/23/02 Butterbean If Pulp Fiction and A Fish Called Wanda had a baby with a clubbed foot. 3 stars
4/06/01 Monday Morning This is one smart flick; great balance of black comedy, mystery and thriller. 5 stars
2/03/00 arnold entertaining 5 stars
12/06/99 CATM I found it to be very entertaining, Charlize is gorgeous, and the cat fight was just great! 5 stars
10/11/99 Weird Andy Aiello saves the day. What more do you want? 4 stars
7/23/99 Hagbard Celine Decent acting salvages a lame script. What's the deal with Jeff Daniels' character? 3 stars
3/17/99 Max Bernstein This movie was written by morons. It is a turd floating in the toilet.damn you Bill Paxton. 1 stars
3/13/99 Love Donkey Fast, funny. I saw it twice. 5 stars
11/12/98 Jules Here's an idea, bad dialogue, stupid story, characters no one cares about... Lets do it! 1 stars
10/17/98 Mr Showbiz As crime films go, this one is a clever toe-tapper. 5 stars
9/04/98 pooky the bald The video cover said "Out Pulp Fiction's Pulp Fiction". This was NO Pulp Fiction. 2 stars
9/02/98 J-Guy watched it drunk. it didnt help. this movie blows ass. 1 stars
8/29/98 Matt I wanted to enjoy this flick, I really, really did, but i was let down 3 stars
8/29/98 Johny Just a lame as hell PULP FICTION ripoff 1 stars
8/25/98 Pete I LOVE Charlize Theron. I wish I could say the same for this flick. 2 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball Charlize Theron is great. Stoltz is great. Everyone else was "Movie Of The Week". 4 stars
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  27-Sep-1996 (R)


  04-Sep-1997 (MA)

Directed by
  John Herzfeld

Written by
  John Herzfeld

  Greg Cruttwell
  Jeff Daniels
  Eric Stoltz
  Charlize Theron
  Danny Aiello
  Marsha Mason

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