Pulp Fiction: Hit Men -- They're Just Like Us!

And onward to our next review -- Pulp Fiction, the 1994 film that made Tarantino a buzzword for mildly pretentious film students everywhere.  It won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, relaunched John Travolta's flagging film career, and got itself a place at 123 on the "They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?" list.  This is a special review for me, because it's the first film I'm reviewing that I hadn't seen prior to starting the 1000 Movie Journey.

Full Disclosure: Once I make it through this film, Pulp Fiction will have the distinguished honor of being the second Tarantino film I've ever seen (the first being "Inglourious Basterds, which I loved to pieces).  Friends and loved ones are shocked when they hear that the girl who went away and got a degree in film is so appallingly uneducated.  "Hell," they think, "Even I've seen a couple Tarantino films."  To which I say, "Screw you, I've been busy."  But anyway, here's Pulp Fiction.

Actually, before I start, there's something I should probably address.  If I'm reviewing an R-Rated movie, you can pretty expect R-Rated language/content -- because obviously I'm going to quote and talk about the stuff that was in the film.  If that makes you uncomfortable, I would recommend avoiding the reviews that are specifically on the more adult films on the Top 1000 list.  So yeah:

Yeah, because I just got to the part where Sam Jackson and John Travolta are arguing about whether or not giving a woman a foot massage is in the same ball park as giving her oral and I was like, "Shit...I should probably put a disclaimer up."

So I think that it would be kind of stupid (for obvious reasons) to post my usual chronological review, because this film does not embrace any semblance of a conventional narrative structure.  Bear with me.


  • "Nobody robs restaurants.  Why?"  Because it's dumb.  Because it's hard.  Because the more people you're holding as hostages, the more likely one of them is going to be an undercover cop (or in this case, a hit man).  Seriously guy, take your pick.  But I do love the affectionate nicknames these two have.  Cute, in a Bonnie and Clyde kind of way.  Also, kind of love Amanda Plummer, who alternates between acting like a four year old and DON'T MOVE MOTHERFUCKERS!!

  • One thing I'm already noticing and appreciating about this movie is that Quentin Tarantino knows how to use a freaking soundtrack.  I don't know how he does it, but he always manages to pick music that will turn a normal scene into something that becomes iconic.


  • So Sam Jackson and John Travolta.  The scenes with them sort of make me think of those Star headlines on page two or three: "Hit Men - They're Just Like Us!  They argue about stupid, inconsequential shit while they're supposed to be working."  Not going to lie, I kind of love it.  But I'm also wondering if watching this movie now, 17 years after it was first released, has an effect on how I view it.  I'd seen clips of it before.  I'd seen part of the now famous scene with Frank Whaley and the biblical speech.  I knew that they were hit men before they ever showed up with guns.  So I was wondering if that was more of a surprise moment for the original audiences of 1994.  But I guess that's kind of like asking, "Were people in 1980 really surprised that Darth Vader is Luke's father?"  Even if you've never seen Star know.  By cultural filmic osmosis (a term that I just made up).

  • Also, I'm so pleased that I finally get this picture:


  • Wait a minute.  Eric Stoltz, WTF are you doing here selling drugs?  Shouldn't you be busy trying to score with Amanda Jones or something?  Seriously, you pop up in the unlikeliest of as a child molester in an Ashton Kutcher movie.

  • So is it actually possible to overdose on 50s nostalgia?  Because this restaurant is all kinds of overkill.  I started to sneer derisively at it, but then I noticed that OMG the booth is inside the car that's the coolest thing I've ever seen.  Also, I love how much of a film geek Tarantino is, and how he writes it into his films.  Like the whole bit where Travolta distinguishes between fake Marilyn Monroe and fake Mamie Van Doren...and wonders where fake Jayne Mansfield is.  It's like, he doesn't care if only a small percentage of the audience gets the joke...he gets it, and that's all that matters.

  • But I have to ask: how is it possible for Uma Thurman to dance without losing that terrible wig?  I'd be concerned.  I mean look at that thing:

  • Oh crap, I was not expecting that OD to happen to Mia!  Shows how much I know about hard drugs, because I was all confused about how she OD'ed.  Luckily, Wikipedia schooled me: she took John's heroin and snorted it.  That makes a lot more sense.  Either way, this next image may or may not have traumatized me for life:

          I'm not the...hugest fan of needles.


  • WTF, Christopher Walken?  How have you made a career out of showing up in a movie for five minutes, saying the most random, weirdest shit I've ever heard, and then just leaving??  Seriously?!


  • Aww Bruce Willis is with most adorable foreign girl.  She wants a potbelly!  I'm seriously going to die from the cuteness.  And this is blowing my mind, but Bruce Willis is actually -- kind of really sweet with this girl.  I almost don't trust it.  And I'm right.  Well, looks like you don't fuck with his watch, otherwise

  • I'm sorry,'re so worried about getting to your apartment without running into the gangsters...but once you get there and get your precious watch, you've got time for some PopTarts??  You are really freaking lucky that apparently John Travolta is an incredibly inept hitman (seriously John, if you have to go to the bathroom while you're on a hit, at least take the gun with you).

  • That's the one thing about trying to kill someone in a redneck store -- the proprietor definitely owns a gun, and he's liable to go rogue.

  • Seriously -- ball gags?  What the hell kind of store is this, anyway?  And why do these hillbillies give off a serious Deliverance vibe?  If they tell Bruce Willis to squeal like a piggy I'm done, Top 1000 list be damned.

  • And wait a second, who is this S+M Hannibal Lector guy??  There is no possibly way any of this can end well.

  • Alright, solid move, Bruce Willis.  Honor among thieves.  Now go back there and beat the crap out of those redneck sons a' bitches.  First, grab a weapon.  A hammer?  That's ok, but I think we can do better.  It's not quite phallic enough.  A baseball bat?  Maybe.  A chainsaw?  Getting warmer.  Hold up.  A katana?  Congratulations, Bruce--you have officially found the most ironically phallic weapon in the store.  Now git er done.

  • So what the hell's the difference between a motorcycle and chopper?  And why does Bruce feel the need to be so condescending about it?  Dude just crashed the girl's car, he should probably keep his snarky comments to a minimum.


  • OK, kid in the bathroom.  I realize you're not a professional hit man, you're just a small time hoodlum who got in over his head, but listen to me.  If you're out of sight and the people who want to kill you don't know you're there, you should probably stay hidden unless you are damn sure you have good enough aim to actually, I don't know, hit them.  Just saying.

  • "Oh man, I shot Marvin in the face.  Well I didn't mean to do it, it was an accident!  Chill out man, I told you it was an accident.  You probably went over a bump or something."  Did this scene seriously just happen?  I kind of love you, Quentin Tarantino.

  • OMG, Tarantino is Jimmy.  That amuses me way more than it should.  "Let me ask you a question.  When you came pulling in here, did you notice a sign out in front of my house that said 'Dead N**ger Storage'?  Did you notice a sign out in front of my house that said 'Dead N**ger Storage'?  You know WHY you didn't see that sign?  Cause it ain't there, cause storing dead n**gers ain't my fucking business, that's why!"  Oh Jimmy...even though you use the n-word and as a middle class white person that makes me are really funny.


  • Hey, so we're back to where the story starts!  Tim Roth is back!  

  • I'm actually pretty impressed with how Sam Jackson says the biblical quote again to Tim Roth and it has a completely different meaning from when he said it to Frank Whaley.  That's just good acting.

So that's Pulp Fiction.  I'm so excited that I finally sat down and watched this!  I have to say, I love how Tarantino structures his films.  A lot of people try to write films with this kind of meandering, non-conventional narrative, but they're usually not as effective.  For me, I normally get confused or (more often) am simply not emotionally invested in the characters and situations enough to want to stick with the film to its conclusion.  This movie, on the other hand, has characters that seemingly come out of nowhere and then disappear just as quickly, it is the definition of a nontraditional narrative, but there's something different about it.  It's so well-plotted it feels incredibly organic, and it makes the audience engaged without even realizing it, because it doesn't feel like work to follow the storyline.  I think your enjoyment of this film boils down to whether or not you're a "Tarantino" person - whether you like the dialogue, the sometimes jarring music, the style of narrative.  This is only my second, but I'm loving it so far!

Thanks for reading!  Come back tomorrow for The Graduate!

Want to know more about the Top 1000 List?  Check it out and see if your favorites are here! They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?

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