(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)
(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)
SW SCORE: 48
5 out of 5 🐙
I’m back again with another movie review. This time it’s gonna be for Pulp Fiction, my absolute favorite movie. I know a lot of people bitch and complain that they can’t pick a favorite anything, let alone a favorite movie.
To be polite: I’m skeptical of those claims. I always respond to their protests by asking them the desert island question: if you were stranded on a desert island, what one favorite (whatever) would you bring? They usually can’t find a way to squirm out of that one.
I’m not saying Pulp Fiction is the best movie ever made. That’s obviously Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
It’s a good thing I at least make myself laugh!
Asking me what I think is the best movie of all time (and not my favorite) is tough. My pick wouldn’t surprise most people. It sits near or at the top of most all-time great movie lists. Ok ok, I’ll tell you. You are so impatient.
I’ll review it another day but I just don’t think there’s a single mistake in the whole thing. It is cinematic perfection.
My #2: To Kill a Mockingbird
My #3: Pulp Fiction
So back to it.
Pulp Fiction was the first indie I ever saw (back when Miramax wasn’t the supergiant it is now – well whatever will become of it since you know what went down). I was raised in the burbs on mainstream fare and I love plenty of mainstream flicks. I still go see mainstream flicks. When it comes to movies I don’t care how much it cost to make or what language it’s in. I just want to be entertained.
But seeing an indie after being raised on mainstream films was eye-opening for me.
It’s Tarantino’s best movie and that’s saying something. None of his others come close. Even with my 2nd choice in the Quentin universe, Reservoir Dogs, it’s not a tight race. You could see Tarantino beginning to stretch his powers with Reservoir Dogs but it wasn’t till Pulp Fiction that he blew the movie world up with his magnum opus.
I just watched Pulp Fiction last night for the umpteenth time. No other movie makes me LOL as much. I can probably recite most of the movie by heart and I know what the punchlines are gonna be. It doesn’t matter. It’s just as satisfying and funny as the first time I saw it. Only one other piece of video art reaches that level for me: The Wire (but that’s also another post for another day).
Pulp Fiction influenced movies dramatically. Sure there’s still milquetoast shit with shallow characters pedaled by Hollywood. But Pulp Fiction changed what mainstream moviegoers wanted from their movies. Simple good and bad archetypes just weren’t gonna cut it anymore.
And I’m not saying there were no movies with grey characters before Pulp Fiction. There were movies with achronological storytelling too before Pulp Fiction. But it was the first time that my sheltered ass saw shit like that.
It was too cool and amazing for the academy, whose composition at the time (and largely still) mirrored the membership roles of the Los Angeles AARP chapter. They gave Tarantino an Oscar for Best Screenplay but then gave Best Picture to Forrest fucking Gump (a movie I love but it’s, to paraphrase Jules Winnfield, not in the same ballpark as Pulp Fiction. Shit, it’s not even the same sport.).
The cast was incredible. It made Samuel L. Jackson a huge star. It elevated Thurman’s status. It made Tarantino a revered auteur.
It brought Travolta back from the dead. It contained solid performances from Bruce Willis, Tim Roth and Eric Stoltz. It contained, in my opinion, the funniest and perhaps the best performance ever delivered by Christopher Walken.
There’s the always great Tarantino soundtrack. A wonderful tradition we didn’t even know was starting. There was Jules Winnfield’s hair. There is the legion of highly quotable lines.
OK. I’ll stop. For now.
I’ve gushed too much. Now it’s time to stop being polite and start getting real. There are bad parts of my favorite movie. There are turds in an otherwise pristine pool. Butch’s girlfriend is completely awful and she shits on every scene she is in. I don’t believe in the death penalty. Especially since she’s an imaginary character. But if it were possible I’d make an exception in this case. Yolanda/Honey Bunny is terrible, too. She’s the absolute dead anchor trying desperately to drag down the otherwise amazing diner scenes.
The other false note for me was Tarantino’s use of the N-word in the scene where he acts and delivers the famous line. I don’t care that he used the N-word in and of itself. When Stoltz’s drug dealer character used it while talking to Travolta’s character, it felt natural and it wasn’t this awkward center of the scene. But while it was a hilarious line, it felt like it was shoehorned in. There’s an old creative bit of advice that goes: “kill your babies.” Even if it’s a great line or moment in and of itself, it has to fit the whole.
I do care that he had himself do the acting because he’s a TERRIBLE actor.
Then again, it is a really fucking funny line. I dunno. I’m torn. And I’m not glad about it.
Here’s the part where I usually list 5 memorably bad or good quotes and 5 memorably bad or good moments and any big gripes I have about the movie and my overall assessment of it. I’ve already told you what I didn’t like about it and I’ve told you a ton of things I did like. So really there are just the quotes left. I’m going to expand It to 10 quotes because 5 just does not do justice to this film’s unmatched dialogue.
(in no chronological or hierarchical order)
A sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie. I’ll never know ’cause even if it did, I wouldn’t eat the filthy motherfucker.
It ain’t no ballpark either. Look maybe your method of massage differs from mine, but touchin’ his lady’s feet, and stickin’ your tongue in her holyiest of holyies, ain’t the same ballpark, ain’t the same league, ain’t even the same fuckin’ sport. Foot massages don’t mean shit.
You’re gettin’ ready to blow? Well, I’m a mushroom-cloud-layin’ motherfucker, motherfucker! Every time my fingers touch brain, I’m Superfly T.N.T., I’m the Guns of the Navarone! IN FACT, WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOIN’ IN THE BACK? YOU’RE THE MOTHERFUCKER WHO SHOULD BE ON BRAIN DETAIL! We’re fuckin’ switchin’! I’m washin’ the windows, and you’re pickin’ up this nigger’s skull!
Well you better be thinkin’ about it now, motherfucker! We gotta get this car off the road. Cops tend to notice shit like you’re driving a car drenched in fuckin’ blood.
There’s this passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and goodwill, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.” I been saying that shit for years. And if you heard it, that meant your ass. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was some cold-blooded shit to say to a mother****er before I popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this morning made me think twice. See, now I’m thinking, maybe it means you’re the evil man, and I’m the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here, he’s the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or, it could mean you’re the righteous man and I’m the shepherd and it’s the world that’s evil and selfish. I’d like that. But that shit ain’t the truth. The truth is you’re the weak. And I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd.
I ain’t never done it before either, all right? I ain’t starting now. Look, you brought her here, and that means you’re gonna give her the shot. The day that I bring an OD’ing bitch to your house, then I give her the shot. Give her the shot.
Hello, little man. Boy, I sure heard a bunch about you. See, I was a good friend of your dad’s. We were in that Hanoi pit of hell together for over five years. Hopefully, you’ll never have to experience this yourself, but when two men are in a situation like me and your dad were, for as long as we were, you take on certain responsibilities of the other. If it had been me who had not made it, Major Coolidge would be talking right now to my son Jim. But the way it turned out is I’m talking to you, Butch. I got something for ya…This watch I got here was first purchased by your great-grandfather during the first world war. It was bought in a little general store in Knoxville, Tennessee, made by the first company to ever make wristwatches. Up until then, people just carried pocket watches. It was bought by Private Doughboy Ryan Coolidge the day he set sail for Paris. This was your great-grandfather’s war watch, and he wore it every day he was in the war. Then when he had done his duty, he went home to your great-grandmother, took the watch off and put it in an old coffee can. And in that can it stayed ’til your granddad Dane Coolidge was called upon by his country to go overseas and fight the Germans once again. This time they called it World War Two. Your great-grandfather gave this watch to your granddad for good luck. Unfortunately, Dane’s luck wasn’t as good as his old man’s. Dane was a Marine and he was killed along with all the other Marines at the battle of Wake Island. Your granddad was facing death, and he knew it. None of those boys had any illusions about ever leaving that island alive. So three days before the Japanese took the island, your granddad asked a gunner on an Air Force transport named Winocki, a man he had never met before in his life, to deliver to his infant son, who he had never seen in the flesh, his gold watch. Three days later, your granddad was dead. But Winocki kept his word. After the war was over, he paid a visit to your grandmother, delivering to your infant father, his Dad’s gold watch. This watch. This watch was on your Daddy’s wrist when he was shot down over Hanoi. He was captured and put in a Vietnamese prison camp. He knew if the gooks ever saw the watch that it’d be confiscated; taken away. The way your Dad looked at it, this watch was your birthright. He’d be damned if any slopes were gonna put their greasy yellow hands on his boy’s birthright. So he hid it in the one place he knew he could hide something. His ass. Five long years, he wore this watch up his ass. And then he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. I hid this uncomfortable hunk of metal up my ass for two years. Then, after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, little man, I give the watch to you.
Look, just ’cause I wouldn’t give no man a foot massage don’t make it right for Marsellus to throw Antoine into a glass motherfucking house, fucking up the way the nigga talks. That shit ain’t right. Motherfucker do that shit to me, he better paralyze my ass because I’d kill the motherfucker.
Hey, Vincent, don’t you see? That shit don’t matter. You’re judging this shit the wrong way. I mean, it could be that God stopped the bullets, or He changed Coke to Pepsi, He found my fucking car keys. You don’t judge shit like this based on merit. Now, whether or not what we experienced was an “according to Hoyle” miracle is insignificant. What is significant is that I felt the touch of God. God got involved.
Vincent: Look, Mr. Wolfe, I respect you. I just don’t like people barking orders at me, that’s all.
The Wolf: If I’m curt with you, it’s because time is a factor. I think fast, I talk fast, and I need you two guys to act fast if you want to get out of this. So pretty please, with sugar on top, clean the fucking car.
(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.
(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)
(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so
(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)