review for Clay Pigeons on AllMovie

Clay Pigeons (1998)
by Karl Williams review

A typically polished performance from standup comic turned actress Janeane Garofalo is just about the only thing this tongue-in-cheek film noir has going for it. Although it starts out with a riveting attention-grabber of a scene, Clay Pigeons (1998) proceeds to go nowhere slowly before indie film treasure Garofalo turns up to remedy the ailing proceedings as a sharp, acerbic investigator with a properly functioning BS detector. Vince Vaughn grows tiring in his oft-abused role of a fast-talking shyster on the make, but Joaquin Phoenix adds some subtly intriguing layers to his male lead, posing the character as perhaps more sensitive and intuitive than he appeared on the page. However, it's all for naught, in the service of a story that mistakenly fancies itself a clever, pop psychological thriller for the Generation X crowd. A hip soundtrack and the appearance of a talented cast do not a successful project make; for a more satisfying example of what this film attempts to do, check out The Minus Man (1999), another quirky murder-comedy that also co-stars, in what is probably not a coincidence, Garofalo.