3000 Miles to Graceland
View Date: February 24th, 2001
|Courteney Cox||Cybil Waingrow|
Recco and Demian
Director: Demian Lichtenstein
Movies that are influenced by, or based upon, an actual person or people have the potential to adopt their characteristics into the film. Quills proved this, as it was a movie that told, rather than showed, as the Marquis de Sade did with his words more than his actions. In 3000 Miles to Graceland, the films slick style and attitude reflect that of Elvis, but similarly, these cannot cover up many glaring problems that remained glossed over until exposed. When they do, the end result is an explosive mass of confusion that began so promisingly, but ends so horribly.
The movies premise, while hokey, held a bit of smirking tongue-in-cheek potential. Russell and Costner lead a band of Elvis impersonators in a casino heist, during an international Elvis convention. This idea could be funny for a joke or two, such as eyewitnesses trying to identify them amidst a sea of look-alikes. Even the first 15 minutes which include some stylish camera work, choreographed heist scene, and of course the attitude of the strolling Elvii through the casino, showed what this movie could have been. But alas, music video director Demian Lichenstein decides to venture away from his initial focus and potential, and create a violent, pointless, bullet riddled chase film across the Western United States. He mixes in an unnecessary love story (Courtney Cox, playing her best trailer trash mode), the cute little smart aleck kid (David Kaye who is one of the few entertaining things to watch) and whenever the plot begins to lag even more, throws in a violent death for reasons that obvious require more brain power to analyze than this movie is truly worth. This movie never should have left Las Vegas, because once it does, it takes any hope with it. The references to Elvis become nothing more than a gimmick, mentioned occasionally just to remind us that these cold-blooded, idiotic criminals have an affinity for “the King”. There are so many unexplored potential stories, and so many more unnecessary ones, mixed with the barrage of bullets and bad dialogue. Put it all together, and you have a hunk of burning garbage impersonating a dark action comedy.
While the movie was searching for its identity beyond the Presley persona, Costner seems to now be an actor flailing and sinking amidst his string of failures. In recent attempts, he seems to be in search of his identity as an actor, trying to revisit his past, successes and failures trying to find himself. He tried revisiting Bull Durham via For Love of The Game, JFK via Thirteen Days, and now, in a very desperate act, revisits one of his greatest failures, by playing a bad guy here ala Perfect World. His charming sarcasm just does not elicit any kind of fear, humorous or serious. Kevin needs to take a step back and reevaluate his career choices before venturing into any more waters. Amongst the other wasted potentials lies the greatest one of all, the ability to capitalize on Kurt Russell revisiting his Elvis roots. Russell portrayed the King in a 1983 TV movie in what stands as the best of a string of onscreen portrayals. The chance to see him revel in that again was worth the price of admission, if only the director had seen and realized what he had, there could have been something to savor from this disaster. In the films opening, there is a magical energy with Costner, Russell, Slater (who finally gets to use his Nicholson Jr. induced sneer as it should be) Woodbine and even a curiously cast David Arquette, as they stroll through the casino to the sounds of “Such a Night” But once the heist is pulled, the director had played all of his cards and resorts to make the next 2 painful hours, a series of chases, inept cops, stereotyped denizens (Cox included) and boring, borderline offensive clichés.Ultimately, 3000 Miles to Graceland is long, droning downward spiral into cinema hell. If the king is really dead (and not just at my local donut shop) then he’s doing cartwheels in his grave at the bastardization of his portrayal here. I never thought I'd say that a movie didn't have enough Elvis culture in it, but then again, he was the king of excess and this movie was dire need of his influence, along with a plot, a brain and a script that wouldn't embarass Skinemax fans. The fans of Elvis are nothing if not consistent and fanatical in their beliefs. It’s too bad that the director and writer couldn’t catch this lightning in a bottle and combine with the crime element, and dark humor to make something memorable. Instead, Elvis becomes nothing more than the shadow and gimmick of yet another pointless festival of bullets, clueless characters and over done storylines. I wish this film had left the building before it ever got made. It may only be 3000 miles to Graceland, but it only takes 135 minutes to get to cinema hell. Thank you, thank you very much. ($ out of $$$$)
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