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Who Is Cletus Tout? (R)
Official Site
Director: Chris Ver Weil
Producers: Adam Haight, Jay Firestone
Written by: Chris Ver Weil
Cast: Tim Allen, Christian Slater, Portia Di Rossi, Richard Dreyfuss, Ru Paul Charles, Billy Connolly, Shawn Doyle, Louis Di Bianco


There is absolutely no mystery to Who Is Cletis Tout? Who is he? Some guy you don’t care about at the beginning, middle, or end of this laugh-free comedy and virtually suspenseless crime movie. It would be an overstatement to call the situational developments in the film plot twists because no real deviation from the formulaic sticky glue storyline results. We’ve seen it all before, but sadly we didn’t want to see it the first time.

A lavish amount of movie buff characters appear in this film, which in most instances would be a dependable way to prompt comic relief, but in this case their obsessive dialogue is to no avail. The first scene contains two thugs exchanging repartee about Deliverance that is supposed to be witty, but misfires completely. A disappointing tone to start off in, to say the least. Soon after, hit man Critical Jim (Allen) comes into this question of a movie. With such an abundance of movie quotes and homages to the golden years of Hollywood spewing out of his mouth, you would think Jim was a pretentious film student rather than a hired gun.

Critical Jim apprehends who he thinks is Cletis Tout, AKA the escaped convict Trevor Finch (Slater), and keeps him at gunpoint in an undisclosed location awaiting the okay to finish the job. Finch calmly explains his current state of misidentification through a series of narrated flashbacks. A deal with father figure Micah (Dreyfuss) set both men free from prison and each took on a new identity with the help of Finch’s coroner friend Savian (Connolly). From there on out, Finch assumed the dead Cletis Tout’s identity and, unsurprisingly, the burned-to-a-crisp videojournalist Tout had his own illicit history that needed to be put to rest.

Through Finch’s retelling we learn of the problems that arise from handling stolen diamonds, carrier pigeons, an eager drag queen (Charles), and Micah’s daughter Tess ( di Rossi). Unfortunately, all of Finch’s listed strifes are told in a conventional manner and lead to overtly predictable resolutions. The answers would have been more intriguing if presented in a deceptive multiple choice format, but in this matching layout in which a always leads to b, Ver Weil leaves the audience doodling away the extra hour in the theater after the plot has been figured out in the first minutes of the film.

Maybe if Christian Slater actually was Jack Nicolson, Who Is Cletis Tout? would have had at least one good personality to build upon, but the script and direction of the film are bad foundation for any half-decent actor to work on. The sappy montages with Tess will elicit screams of “no!” in protest of the unnecessarily added sentimentality, but other than that, no substantial emotions surface within the remaining two hours of boring, harmonious torture.

Also, the mild criminal personalities and trite one-liner jokes fail to mesh, and the audience is bound to start daydreaming about Double Indemnity or Sunset Boulevard once their titles are dropped in the dialogue. These constant references to old Hollywood movies only draw forth the film’s own neo-noir incompetence at achieving the greatness of the days of yore.

“There’s nothing like a great movie,” Critical Jim says toward the beginning of the film. Yep, there really isn’t. So do yourself a favor and go see something other than Who Is Cletis Tout?

—Sandra Ogle


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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