This Movie is Rated R – For Sexual Content, Nudity, Violence, Language and Drug Use
I discovered this movie a couple of years ago. I’m a fan of Joaquin Phoenix’s work and was checking out some of his older movies, when I came across this one (it’s from 1998). This is back before he was a household name (other than being known as River Phoenix’s younger brother).
Before I go any further, let me just say I was bummed when he announced that he was quitting acting. I think he is a great actor and I will miss seeing him taking on new challenges. That being said, it is his life and he should do what makes him happy. I have no interest in all of the tabloid gossip going on about him currently and I am actively avoiding any new press about him. So if you are interested in any of that, you are in the wrong place. Ok off my soapbox and on with the movie.
I guess I would call this a thriller with aspects of dark comedy. Joaquin is great as Clay. The thing I love about Joaquin is that he can play any emotion and it just feels so real (like he is personally experiencing what is happening in the movie). He can do subtle, as well as, larger emotions (rage, anger, shock) with equal skill.
Lester Long is played by Vince Vaughn. I think I have only seen Vince in one other movie (Thumbsucker). I’m just not into the comedy type stuff he is known for. He is great in this movie; his character is quirky and has some great dialog that he pulls off perfectly. I was surprised that he can also pull off ominous quite well.
Janeane Garofalo plays FBI Agent Shelby. This role seems to have been written for her. The character is a strong woman, with a dry/sarcastic sense of humor. She is obviously the perfect actor for the part.
The opening scene of the movie is great and sets up what type of movie this is. I will warn you that there are small town cliches at work here. So if you are from a small town and offended by that kind of thing, you have been for-warned. The first scene with Clay and Lester together is just too funny. I loved how Lester kept a running commentary going throughout the whole game of pool.
Joaquin and Vince have great chemistry. They do a fantastic job with both the humorous parts and the darker/edgier parts. I don’t want to give away the whole story, but let’s say that a lot of interesting stuff happens between them. Including, a fishing trip, murder and double-crossing. The saying “with friends like this, who needs enemies” definitely applies to Lester.
Some of my favorite quotes from the movie:
Clay – “Of course it’s a woman, it has long hair.”
Lester – “It could be a rock star.”
Sheriff Mooney – “Promise you’ll stop findin’ dead people.”
Agent Shelby – “Your deputy’s name is Barney … that’s great.”
Agent Shelby – “So you’re a full service garage, eh.”
Agent Shelby – “You’re very colorful.”
Make sure to listen to the song “Clay Pigeons (The Ballad of Lester Long)”. It plays during the music portion of the credits. Listen to the words carefully, it gave me a few laughs.
Following is additional information about the movie that contains spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled don’t read any further.
I have to say I was shocked when Clay hit Amanda. Don’t get me wrong, I thought she was a selfish, heartless b*tch, but I just didn’t think he would do something like that.
The sex scene with Clay and Gloria was incredibly hot, up until the shooting of course. Note to self; guns and waterbeds don’t mix.
I cheered when Lester killed Amanda. I know it’s wrong, but I don’t care, I really hated her.
I loved when Clay jumps Lester. The physicality of that scene is great. With Clay being so much smaller than Lester, but not being intimidated by him.
Pot smoking FBI agent, Magic Fingers bed, pizza delivery guy’s expression … funny.
Agent Shelby’s reaction when finding Barney locked up in the cell is priceless.
Poor Clay, the harder he tries to get out of the mess he is in, the worse it gets. Yeah, for him breaking out of jail to save Kimberly. Even though it would probably make things worse for him.