Valley of indecision

A cynical comic edge can't justify spending 2 Days in the Valley

Although it nearly achieves a slippery, antisocial playfulness, in the end 2 Days in the Valley seems almost too hip, too knowing, and yet too predictable. It has been marketed as the successor to Pulp Fiction, but despite some passing surface similarities, it never approximates the same deep-seated daring. Pulp Fiction wasn't a great movie because it suddenly killed off major characters or because it bounced around in a wild time line or because it used humor to undercut breathtakingly brutal violence. Rather, it was the convergence of these elements and many more ineffable qualities that made it ring with originality. By setting out to recreate Pulp Fiction's sense of gonzo loopiness and then back-pedaling in key moments, 2 Days in the Valley misses the critical factor needed to establish its own identity. Someone should have realized that you can't manufacture the thrill of a novel idea once someone else has beat you to the punch and done a better job of it.

2 Days in the Valley. MGM/Rysher Entertainment. James Spader, Eric Stoltz, Danny Aiello, Teri Hatcher, Greg Cruttwell, Charlize Theron, Marsha Mason, Paul Mazursky, Glenne Headly, Jeff Daniels. Written and directed by John Herzfeld. Now showing.

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