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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.14%
Worth A Look: 13.16%
Pretty Bad: 19.3%
Total Crap: 23.68%

9 reviews, 60 user ratings

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Mexican, The
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by Scott Weinberg

"One of the strangest 'star vehicles' you're ever likely to see."
3 stars

Worth seeing for some enjoyable performances and a surprisingly witty, insightful script, The Mexican earns a truly schizophrenic grade from me: I liked it enough to recommend it, and I liked it enough to wish it had been better. It's not likely to grace your 'all-time favorites' list, but here is a movie that at the very least isn't just another big-budget movie star stroke-a-thon. There are a lot of flaws in this movie, but every single one is an interesting flaw.

Here's my question: If you're going to make a romantic pair of the two biggest movie stars on the planet...why have them appear in only two scenes together? (And while we're at it, let's make the title as generic and meaningless as possible!) The idea of Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts teaming up for a romantic adventure/comedy movie must have sounded great on paper. So why make two seemingly separate (nearly full-length) movies and jam 'em together?

Jerry (Pitt) and Samantha (Roberts) are a constantly bickering (yet always unquestionably in love) couple on the rocks. Jerry is the lowest man on the totem pole to local crime boss Nayman (Bob Balaban, as strong as he always is) who is given the proverbial one last chance to do a good job. His latest mission is to head down to Mexico and retrieve a precious antique revolver. Why Nayman chooses to send an obvious screw-up like Jerry is beyond me.

Upon hearing of Jerry's latest "job", Samantha spins into a tizzy of overreaction that can only be created by a Julia Roberts coasting on about 14 cups of coffee. And I don't mean decaf. Jerry moans and makes several extreme hand motions while Samantha shrieks and whoops while throwing luggage off of the terrace. And just like that, this lovely couple split and go their separate ways; Jerry to Mexico and Samantha to Las Vegas. (Or so she thinks.)

Take a very likable performance from Brad Pitt, mix in a strong (yet occasionally grating) job by Julia, and serve it with a healthy side order of James ("Tony Soprano") Gandolfini. James shows up as a sympathetic hitman who is ordered to "keep an eye" on Samantha until Jerry returns with from South of the Border with the fabled weapon.

Ah yes, the weapon. The gun. The Mexican to which the very title of the film refers. It's quite pretty and shiny, has a cool heart-shaped cartridge and (oh yeah) it's also cursed. Through a series of grainy flashbacks, we are treated to the only somewhat interesting back story of this now-mythical revolver. While I give the filmmakers points for trying, the flashbacks dealing with the gun are easily the weakest parts of the film and are the sequences most likely to predicate sudden trips to the bathroom. ("No, don't pause it. I'll be right back.")

The Mexican is essentially two movies in one, and neither of them are half bad. Odd then that the combination of the two would add up to a less-than-stellar whole, although it would be unfair to dismiss the work of director Gore Verbinski. Like this movie or not, you must admit that it's a gorgeous movie to look at and Verbinski has a solid sense of style in many scenes, the coolest ones involving a viciously irritable mutt.

Plot A: Jerry stumbles around a rather unfriendly Mexican landscape, running afoul of all sorts of criminal types. He loses the revolver, his rental car (an El Camino of course) gets stolen, and people keep dying in his presence. With the amount of shocking misery Jerry had to contend with, I was reminded a few times of Griffin Dunne's character in Scorsese's After Hours. Fans of that film know what I mean.

Plot B: Samantha becomes fast friends with her "protector" Leroy. While most of their scenes together consist solely of non-stop jibber-jabber, Roberts and Gandolfini strike a surprisingly entertaining chemistry onscreen. Although Pitt has most of the laughs in his story, these two actors make the "slow stuff" more than bearable. And this plot line also offers its own share of surprises.

It's not surprising that a movie like this could best be described as schizophrenic. What's strange is that The Mexican still works just about all the way through. It's not necessarily a bad thing to have a plot structure like this, but I doubt the filmmakers wanted people to feel like they were watching two movies at the same time! The screenplay by J.H. Wyman sputters in a few spots, but for the most part the dialogue is clever and even downright funny at times. Pitt has some fun with the befuddled stranger bit, and Gandolfini somehow makes lines like "I'm here to regulate funkiness" work and work well.

It's at about the 105-minute mark that The Mexican blows a rod and threatens to derail completely. Why the filmmakers decided on a 122-minute film with a choppy resolution as opposed to a 100-minute film that would have worked much better is way beyond my comprehension. Several of the plot threads are left a bit dangly, while seemingly important characters vanish into thin air. Perhaps it's because this is such a truly strange little movie (stranger still for the inclusion of these two 1,000-megawatt superstars), but it's evident that nobody really knew how to wrap the movie up.

As is often the case, DreamWorks delivers a damn solid DVD package for this somewhat underrated flick. There is a full-length audio commentary featuring director Gore Verbinski, screenwriter J.H. Wyman and editor Craig Wood. The trio is full of some interesting information, but it's pretty evident that they perhaps took this movie a lot more seriously than they needed to. Also included are 8 deleted scenes that can be seen individually or all in one continuous string. These edited scenes also feature commentaries from the same trio. The HBO "making of" featurette is also here, and I generally skip over these studio puff pieces. But it is nice to have as many extras as possible, so it's a welcome inclusion. You'll also find two theatrical trailers, cast & crew filmographies and the always-popular 'production notes'.

Though not considered one of DreamWorks' "Signature Series", this DVD offers more than its share of digital goodies for us DVD addicts. As is often the case, how much you enjoy these extras depends on how you feel about the movie.

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originally posted: 10/10/01 10:48:18
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User Comments

8/31/08 Shaun Wallner This one was kinda boring. 2 stars
2/04/08 Pamela White not Brad's best work 3 stars
1/30/07 Matt What a fucking mess. Hire it if, and only if, there is absolutely FUCK-ALL on TV! 1 stars
9/22/06 Charles Tatum Surprisingly lucid crime drama, but drowns in its own ugliness 4 stars
8/29/05 Glen Duke Waste of time 2 stars
7/18/05 R.W. Welch Has some amusing bits but very uneven. 3 stars
5/09/04 Rebecca I have watched this film at least 20 times on video and each and every time I am engrossed 5 stars
4/19/04 Croweater Crappy flick, u will want to kill Julia as shes a real slag in this movie. 2 stars
2/22/04 Who shot JR? Has any movie's title character been shot more times than this one's? 1 stars
2/15/04 john bale Top cast can't do much with this muddling along thriller/comedy 2 stars
10/12/03 Carrie Kohl How far Julia Roberts has come since HOOK - from Tinkerbell to Tinkle Belle. 2 stars
10/08/03 Jeffrey Banks Heads up, Robyn! Tain't all that insufferable. Don't let Julia stool ya! 2 stars
10/08/03 Robyn Jamil-Walid Julia Roberts couldn't be more obnoxious if she took a dump in my face! 1 stars
7/22/03 Monster W. Kung Pitt needs to avoid these kind of movies, Roberts needs a punch in the face. 2 stars
4/11/03 Jack Bourbon Surpisingly horrid. Brad Pitt acted about as well as Kato Caelin in this shitbag. 1 stars
2/18/03 y2mckay Tony Soprano didn't want to rape the offspring of Mr. Ed? He must be GAY! 1 stars
11/24/02 tigger142066 I really liked this movie. It was good 5 stars
11/23/02 Croweater Crappy flick, u will want to kill Julia as shes a real slag in this movie. 2 stars
9/26/02 Who shot JR? Has any movie's title character been shot more times than this one's? 1 stars
8/08/02 I Can't Swim Actually, Julia & Gando shared a moment that I enjoyed. Emphasis on 'a' moment, singular 3 stars
5/23/02 Carrie Kohl How far Julia Roberts has come since HOOK - from Tinkerbell to Tinkle Belle. 2 stars
5/15/02 Jeffrey Banks Heads up, Robyn! Tain't all that insufferable. Don't let Julia stool ya! 2 stars
5/15/02 Robyn Jamil-Walid Julia Roberts couldn't be more obnoxious if she took a dump in my face! 1 stars
3/20/02 Jim Gay hitman and Gene Hackman steal the movie from the "stars" 4 stars
3/19/02 Mae Mortaveto Horse mouthed women should keep to the stables 1 stars
3/04/02 Jenny Tullwartz Feelgood message-Insufferable harpy still loves outlaw beau after he kills her gay friend. 1 stars
10/18/01 Catherine Schneider I'm pretty sure this movie was aimed at middle aged women. 2 stars
8/14/01 Monday Morning Not bad at all...just 20-30 minutes too long. 4 stars
6/06/01 Muad'Dib Surpisingly, it works pretty well. It's worth renting, anyway. 3 stars
5/26/01 Edward Shandis JESUS CHRIST! WHO IS MAKING THESE FILMS 1 stars
5/23/01 Lohsandt Totally boring 1 stars
5/20/01 Roy Smith This movies feels about three hours long - three hours of commercials. 1 stars
5/05/01 Jon Jones Its Desperado minus the action, Snatch minus the wit, and a movie minus decent direction 1 stars
5/02/01 Pierce Lanson Awful,awful,awful,awful. 1 stars
4/26/01 Brian Somebody kill that vapid, horse-faced bitch Julia Roberts. And the rest sucked too. 1 stars
4/17/01 Lee F Burton. Radio Presenter. Formulaic but great performance from James Gandolfini. Best lines....the dog! 3 stars
4/10/01 muneer78 Not bad. It has an engaging story and the leads do a great job. 4 stars
4/02/01 Carolyn This movie made me cry! It was definitely worth going to see, and I loved Brad and Julia! 5 stars
3/28/01 Rampage Brad Pitt was great, the rest blew chunks 2 stars
3/28/01 Kirsten Worth the matinee price 3 stars
3/28/01 tnt a convoluted waste of time for the viewer....everything misfires! 2 stars
3/25/01 Sid 6.7 A wistful romantic vehicle for the glitzy and glamorous couple of Pitt and Roberts 4 stars
3/24/01 Rebekah Walker The movie itself wasn't that great, but Brad Pitt is gorgeous, so I'm not complaining!! 4 stars
3/24/01 ZuG It was quite funny at times, I liked it. 4 stars
3/23/01 pipeman Possibly the worst directed movie in history. 1 stars
3/23/01 Valerie its soooo funny 5 stars
3/21/01 amy brad is delicious. 5 stars
3/16/01 Gabe WOW did it SUCK 2 stars
3/16/01 Julia Roberts I want to tell all people on earth that I love myself more than the horsemouth I have. 1 stars
3/07/01 Natalie Start offs in debut, just goes further in. 1 stars
3/05/01 Deana Henderson Julia is nothing less than fabulous 4 stars
3/04/01 Jake I'll go one step further: Brad Pitt & Julia Roberts. 1 stars
3/04/01 John Lyons Julia Roberts is still in "white trash" mode. Sucked big time! 1 stars
3/03/01 Buzz What a waste of film. Not even interesting as an example of a bad film. 2 stars
3/03/01 Jen Brad Pitt 5 stars
3/03/01 Jaime MM, your review is pretty wretched 3 stars
3/02/01 Shayne Davies The review didn't read well - and it was full of grammatical errors 2 stars
3/01/01 TimmyToday Julila Roberts 5 stars
3/01/01 Nancy Barton Too long, does'nt live up to hype! Roberts is great. 4 stars
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  02-Mar-2001 (R)


  25-Apr-2001 (M)

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