3,000 Miles to Graceland

Reviewed By Brian McKay
Posted 03/02/03 10:10:44

"The most reviled film I've ever liked"
4 stars (Worth A Look)

One thing I just don't get is all the haters that flock under the banner of "3000 Miles to Graceland Sucks!". My God, people, surely we've all seen films abysmally worse than this one. I'll give you that it's a pointless, overblown, soulless mess. But dammit, 3000 MILES TO GRACELAND (to be referred to hereafter as 3KMTG) simply rocks.

I'm not just defending 3KMTG as a guilty pleasure, but as a quality piece of filmmaking. With its Vegas scenery and desert vistas, it captures the essence of Detroit steel cruising the blue highways of lost Americana. Russell and Costner deliver up some of the most amusing portrayals of their careers as casino-robbing Elvis impersonators (and how many times has Russell played Elvis now, anyway?). Okay, so only Russell looks anything like The King. Costner sure as hell doesn't with that scraggly thin mop and muttonchop sideburns. Hey Kev, ever thought about Propecia?

The plot, such as it is, is that a group of robbers led by Michael Zane (Russell) and Thomas J. Murphy (Costner) decide to rob a Vegas casino in the midst of an Elvis impersonators convention. They think this is a foolproof plan because they'll blend right in (not realizing, apparently, that the Elvises toting assault rifles kinda stick out from all the others). Naturally, the plan gets completely botched up, and they end up making a narrow escape after shooting up about a dozen security guards and a hundred slot machines.

After that it's one big chase across the desert. Costner tries to screw everyone out of their share by taking the direct approach - killing them. Russell gets away, then goes after him and the money. He gets it back, but the plot (such as it is) thickens when his new white trash girlfriend (Courtney Cox) and her annoying klepto son are captured by Murphy. Meanwhile, Zane and Murphy are being chased all over hell's half acre by the requisite gaggle of cops, federal agents, and Casino gangsters who all want the money back. Oh, and don't let me forget to mention the most laughable subplot of all, where Murphy's fixation on The King is explained as a result of him being convinced that he is actually a Presley love child.

Yes, it's all rather silly, but oh so exuberant. It is both an indictment and a celebration of shallow, noisy, bright and glitzy filmmaking, with the choice of the Elvis Motif clearly symbolic of America's new, dead gods. Plus it's got Ice-T hanging upside down and shooting a bunch of dudes like some bizarre hip-hop ninja pinwheel of Uzi death, and Courtney Cox's glorious portrayal of a trailer park queen with an ass so tight you could bounce Susan B. Anthony's off of it and whose life could easily be the subject of a book entitled "Ten Really Stupid and Reprehensibly Bad Choices Women Make About Men"

3KMTG is like smoking a bowl and then dropping acid at a Las Vegas drive-in while shoveling obscene amounts golden gloop-covered popcorn and supersweet mega-fizzy cola into your yob. It's all about excess, baby - the bigger and dumber and louder, the better. If you can't find something to like about this film (shakes head disapprovingly), you're just not an American!

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