Pulp Fiction (1994)


"The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption."

   Coming in by form of request is Tarantino's classic Pulp Fiction.  It's a flick that's definitely not for the kids (as is any Tarantino film) and just bustling with snazzy quotables and violence. Even beyond that, we have a large cast of characters, many of which are well known actors involved, delivering wonderful performances.

   The plot line here is a bit more convoluted than it really needs to be, and it happens to be so mostly just from the semi-disjointed way the scenes play out - a bit of time warping if you will. An example of this is actually how the film immediately starts - in a restaurant  with a couple that decides to rob the place because it happens to be safer than robbing liquor stores. This scene is shown at the start of the movie and finally gets finished at the end of the movie (as the last scene), and all of it ends up actually being timeline-wise the early middle of the movie. Although it should be easy enough to follow what's going on for most even with this disjointed time frame, there are also people out there who had to watch Inception  multiple times to understand what was going on, which leads me to believe for some it might cause a bit of a problem.

   Trying to do this chronologically as far as in-movie event chains goes is probably going to be the easiest way of elaborating on the plots just from a flow standpoint alone, so that is how I'll approach it - that is to say how the events unfold in the existence of the movie as opposed to when we see them watching the movie. On this note, we start off with our dynamic duo of Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) on the job to go retrieve a suitcase (that glows like a holy stash of fabled gold when opened) from a couple of "business associates" of their boss - Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). Their plot focuses on their misadventures (and lines that end up being the most memorable of the movie in my opinion) as they try to complete this job and can be considered an "Act One." At the end of this Act One content, we are introduced to another character, Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) who becomes the final act later on, although I'll get to that later.

   Next up, we have the story of Vincent Vega and Marsellus' wife Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman). This is functionally Act Two, with Vega's goal to show Mia a good time while Marsellus is out of town without doing anything that would get him thrown out a fourth story window. Act Two is also the heaviest as far as the drug use goes, with both the primary parties using their various drugs, and culminating in a frantic race against time when one happens to overdose. Before that, although the scene isn't nearly as action packed or whimsically misadventure related as the first act, it does have some moments interesting banter.

   Act Three (the final act) is Butch's act, and focuses on him bursting his get-rich plan that causes him to get in some big trouble with Marsellus. The trouble begins when Butch win's a boxing match that he was supposed to lose in the 5th - which nets him big money when everyone started putting bets down based on word going around that he would lose in the 5th (as he was payed to do by Marsellus). Getting ready to leave town, he finds out that his father's watch is still in his apartment (the importance of which is elaborated to us in a "flashback" by Christopher Walken's side-character) and it leads to all manner of trouble. Of the three acts, this one also directly involves Marsellus, as the two have a bit of an "impasse" at a road crossing which further develops into an incredibly unforeseen and awkward scenario for the both of them.

   Throughout the three acts, characters continually reference other bits and pieces of content that happened during or in-between the chapters (Vega mentions someone keys his car in Act Two, and we see Butch leave the bar after a bit of confrontation with him in Act One with a rather angry posture). It helps to build a more intact narrative bridge between these events, even though the timeline of the movie does jump around quite a bit, and make it feel more like a living world.

"...adds a real sense of life to these characters..."

    As far as characters go, this one has plenty. Even if we just bank on the "main" characters of the movie, it still has more than a lot of other movies out there, and Tarantino has a way of making his characters unique enough to stand out in a crowd without the help of extravagant costumes. Particularly to note here is the dynamic between Vega and Jules - the way their dialogue plays off of one another adds a real sense of life to these characters, and it's something that you end up missing in the scenes where Jules is missing (which isn't to say the other scenes aren't good). The fact the the two don't see eye to eye on all of the happenings during their misadventure adds even more to them, giving each a unique personality the other doesn't have while allowing them to be seen as a team. 

   Act Two leaves Vega seeming a little less amusing, although as far as him being drugged up one would find it to be pretty believable with how he looks/acts and towards the end the character comes a bit more alive again. All in all, the interaction between Mia and Vega feels as though I imagined it would - through most of it is a feeling of tension, which is totally understandable with the rumors from Act One. In comparison to the interactions of the first act between Vega and Jules, however, it's not as chemical feeling. 

   Butch really comes off as a character with some rage issues. Like a stack of dynamite he flies off the handle with little warning, but at the same time he is also shown to be a bit regretful of all that anger. His interactions with Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros) show a different side of the character, which adds a lot of depth, as does his actions towards the end of the act in relation to Marsellus. 

   Costumes here really only shine during Act Two, when the place Vega and Mia go to eat at has an assortment of "famous characters" walking around in the background, such as Zorro and Marilyn Monroe. Outside of that, each character has their own appearance (the professional suits of Vega and Jules compared to the normal attire of Butch) that helps lend to their character, but that darn modern setting comes back in and prevents us from having real elaborate designs. The set designs all have a nice bit of pop to them as well, ranging from the believable drug-dealers semi-disheveled apartment to the Jackrabbit Slim's cool setting which makes me wish I had one nearby so I could go and experience eating in a place that happens to be that rad.

"...anything that starts out with Dick Dale's Misirlou couldn't possibly go wrong..."

   The selection of tunes throughout this movie is as one might say stellar. I mean, anything that starts out with Dick Dale's Misirlou couldn't possibly go wrong right? Sound effects sound good, lines are delivered wonderfully. I would even go as far as to wager that some lines are delivered beyond wonderfully, as some of the lines work together and are delivered with such skill that you would wager it was just an actual event being recorded. Needless to say, I walk away from this movie with not just a couple of songs playing the part of an earworm, but also with a couple of dialogue lines as well (such as "Say what again!" or the more profane versions around it). Memorable quotes is something that a lot of movies don't tend to strive for, and it is a shame they don't, as a good quote can far outlast even the movie itself regardless of how bad or good the movie was. Regardless to say, you may not appreciate some of the quotables from this movie so much if you have a thing about profanity, but as long as you get over that aspect this flick is an absolute gold mine!

   All in all, there happens to be a lot of good in this movie as long as you can get over that Tarantino-level violence and profanity. Although I have no problems with this, I feel the need to call it out because some of you might, and it's really the only things one should be able to primarily complain about in this flick : drugs, violence, and swearing. The characters have personality, at least two of the three acts are more amusing than some entire feature length films, the audio and soundtrack are memorable, and there's so many stars acting in this flick you are bound to see someone you (should) know in it. Heck, you could even dig deeper into specific points of action/dialogue for deeper meanings than the simple plot I described - such as Jules and Vega's discussion over if what happened was a miracle, or using the negligent discharge car scene in Act One as a ploy the importance of trigger discipline within gun safety. The thing even holds up well to time, as the practical effects are incredibly well used with editing and camera positioning so that it's not as easily dated.

   I'd tell you to watch it, but chances are if you already know about this movie, you either have already watched it and just want to see what I thought about it, or you haven't watched it because you don't like those Tarantino-esque movies (which this is, given that it is literally a Tarantino movie). If you have an open enough mind to not get offended, watch it anyways, you might walk away with some memorable lines, Just do us all a favor and don't let your kids watch it until they get older alright? Although it might work as a nice example of why you don't do drugs, get involved with the mafia/crime syndicates, mishandle guns, or otherwise not show people respect, they already pick up swearing fast enough from the school systems to need the boost this movie would provide.

Pulp Fiction on IMDB

Pulp Fiction
Starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Eric Stoltz