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
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
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
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?