2 Days in the Valley (1996)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Comedy, Ensemble Film, Police Detective Film  |   Release Date - Sep 27, 1996 (USA)  |   Run Time - 107 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - R
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The feature film directorial debut of longtime TV movie creator John Herzfeld, this crime thriller interweaves several related plot lines into one tongue-in-cheek noir tapestry. The works of Quentin Tarantino clearly form the template for Herzfeld's opus, mimicking the ironic dialogue, comic violence, and sprawling multi-tiered action of Pulp Fiction (1994). The filmmaker hews a little too closely to his influences, however, resulting in a stilted, uninspired lethargy that's an indication of the film's critical lack of imagination. That doesn't mean that the film's not occasionally fun, or that genre fans won't appreciate its hip, self-mocking energy. There are some good performances too, notably from James Spader, returning to his roots as a slick, ice-cold heavy, newcomer Charlize Theron in a hilarious over-the-top sexpot role, and Paul Mazursky, who usually comes off as too precious, in the nicely modulated part of a suicidal pet lover. Bottom line, 2 Days in the Valley (1996) is a B-list rip-off, lacking in the wit, style, or invention of the films it's imitating. That said, it's not a complete wash, its competent production and entertaining star turns making it worth a look. Keep in mind, however, that others who trod in Herzfeld's footsteps would do far superior variations on Tarantino themes, such as writer/director P.T. Anderson and his superb Boogie Nights (1997) only one year later.