Another Day in Paradise (1998)

Directed by Larry Clark
Written by Christopher B. Landon & Stephen Chin, based on the novel by Eddie Little
Starring James Woods, Melanie Griffith, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Vincent Kartheiser, Lou Diamond Phillips

My Advice: Wait for MST3K.

Bobby (Kartheiser) is a small time thief around the age of 15, breaking open vending machines and occasionally murdering security guards.  Rosie (Wagner) is his girlfriend who apparently commits statutory illicit acts with him a lot since Wagner is 28 and looks it.  They are lifted out of their level of larceny and into a whole new world of...larceny by Uncle Mel (Woods) and his Bonnie, Sid (Griffith) and try to live the good life of sex, drugs and...larceny.

This is essentially Quentin Tarantino's Drugstore Cowboy done incorrectly.  Wrong thing the first: casting.  As I could not resist pointing out above, Wagner is and looks 28, Kartheiser may be 19, but he looks 15.  So either she's hopelessly miscast as a 15 year old or her character's 28 although she's referred to as a "kid."  Don't sell the bike shop, Orville, cause the sucker don't fly.  Message to Melanie Griffith and those who would cast her: Melanie Griffith does not look believable holding or firing a shotgun or a weapon of any kind.  It doesn't work.  Stop doing it.  James Woods is James Woods, which means he's doing the best he can with what I can only assume he thought was good material.  What should have been an interesting character is Jewels (Phillips), a blatantly homosexual and also blatantly violent member of organized crime. Even with a gun in his hand, you can't take him seriously.  The only character even mildly interesting is a strange Reverend (James Otis) who runs guns and has some kind of heavily fortified compound.  His screen time therefore is kept to a minimum lest we wish it was his film.

As for the technical side of the film, it's vastly unappealing.  Although handheld shots can be quite effective, not knowing how to use them and making the audience feel motion sickness is not always a plus.  There are very long sequences of nothing happening.  There are even longer sequences with Wagner whining that make dogs outside the theatre howl.  And here's a question: why must we see so much of Kartheiser's pubic hair?  A dollar to anyone who can give me a compelling reason, since it gets billing right behind Wagner in the credits.  Most of this film's points come from its cool soundtrack and Woods, but my advice is buy the soundtrack, run from the film.

Buy the novel from Amazon!
Buy the DVD from Amazon!
Buy the soundtrack from Amazon!

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