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Four Rooms (1995)

  Directed by: Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Jennifer Beals, Lana McKissack, David Proval, Tim Roth, Ione Skye, Quentin Tarantino, Danny Verduzco
Links: Four Rooms on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Comedy

This movie gets: 7.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Four Rooms (1995) is also mentioned in mino's review of Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) and pearly's review of Three... Extremes (2004).

"Four Rooms of Fun! (Well, three)" - a review by mino

Four Rooms is possibly one of the most unfairly-maligned films of the last ten years. Not that it's genius, mind you, but it has such a bad reputation, and is trotted out in so many lists of absolute stinkers, that I think it's fair to say it has received far, far more bad press than it deserves. Contrary to popular opinion, Four Rooms is actually a mostly very entertaining, mostly well-written, mostly funny movie, and frankly you could do a lot worse for a light evening's entertainment.

A collaboration between four directors, each of whom wrote and directed one segment, sure, the movie's a little patchy. Some stories are better than others — that's only to be expected, and I really don't think it's that bad.

The four stories, all revolving around Ted (Tim Roth) a new bellhop filling in on New Year's Eve at a formerly-luxurious hotel, are only very tenuously linked, other than by the presence of Ted as a central character.

As such, let's take a look at each one separately.

The Missing Ingredient

This story, by Allison Anders, is probably the problem with Four Rooms. Not just because it's by far the weakest of the four, but because if it had to be included, it really ought not have been included first. It's so much weaker in comparison to the others, in fact, that it almost sours the whole movie. I think this is a key reason for Four Rooms being so much better second time around; you're not sitting through The Missing Ingredient going ‘what the hell?’, you're sitting around going ‘ahh, at least it gets better soon’.

Ingredient is not hammily and deliberately overacted, like the rest of the film is supposed to be; it's badly acted. The plot's silly, and the whole thing's kind of out-of-place: as if Anders had designed it as a short film, and then crammed it into Four Rooms because it seemed a good place for it. Add in some feeble jokes, and some stupid director's tricks reminiscent of Homer Simpson's ‘Star wipe… and we're out!’, and you've got a very unsatisfying section indeed.

It's about witches, by the way.

The Wrong Man

Ahh, that's more like it. The Wrong Man, Alexandre Rockwell's contribution, is much, much better. Poor old Ted wanders into a confrontation between David Proval's psychotic husband and his gagged-and-tied-to-a-chair wife, Jennifer Beals — a sultry temptress if ever there was one. Ted quickly gets caught up in something that's none of his business, and the hijinks that ensue are both hilarious and engrossing. It's silly, sure, but it sucks you in in about five seconds: and Ted's ‘Theodore’ monologue is truly one of the great ‘snaps’ in movie history.

Very stylish, and great fun.

The Misbehavers

Ahh, that's even more like it. Robert Rodriguez takes the helm here, and this rather silly romp anticipates his later Spy Kids (2001) in more ways than one. Rodriguez's good buddy Antonio Banderas decides to ditch his two little brats for a New Year's party, and leaves Ted in charge. Roth puts in probably his best performance here, truly vicious and very very funny. His thunder is stolen somewhat, though, by the two charming little poppets he's left with, Danny Verduzco and Lana McKissack. These two kids — whose careers seem startlingly empty since, given their wonderful performances here — quite literally tear the place apart, and they're simultaneously little shits and lovable urchins.

The Misbehavers absolutely oozes style and humour, in trademark Rodriguez fashion. Banderas, despite his fairly small role, is absolutely perfect, and the whole thing builds to a very funny climax. Great stuff.

The Man From Hollywood

OK, this one I'm not sure on. Being directed by, and written by, Quentin Tarantino is one thing: as anyone who's followed Tarantino's career knows, though, starring him is something else. He really can't act, and his insistence on giving himself plum roles really is a mistake, sometimes. That said, his character here is an arrogant dickhead of a filmmaker who has let early success go to his head and turn him into a total wanker; therefore, he's actually quite suited to this role. Tarantino is profoundly annoying here, but so is his character; and, like it or not, he does give himself some truly great lines.

Based on an old Alfred Hitchcock Presents plotline, in turn based on a short story by the incomparable Roald Dahl, The Man From Hollywood tells the tale of a very strange bet with which Ted is roped in to assist. The segment is hardly genius, but it is good fun, and Tarantino manages to capture the weird energy of a room full of drunks almost perfectly. The reappearance of Jennifer Beals' character here is a nice touch; it's hard to say why, but her small role here really does add a certain something to the scene. The whole section is very good value, despite Tarantino's ego, and again builds to great ending.

Look: Foor Rooms isn't going to go down in history as a classic film. If you can ignore the fact that Rodriguez and Tarantino are involved, though, and hence cast aside all your expectations of the type of movies they make, I think you'll enjoy it. The wonderful The Pink Panther (1963)-esque opening credits, set to the absolutely knockout Combustible Edison soundtrack (one of the best soundtracks ever, for my money) set the stage for a silly, light-hearted romp, centred largely around some crazy plots, some misfortune, and the ability of Tim Roth to pull a silly face. Loosen up and enjoy.

mino gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 9 Mar 2004

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Reader comments

  1. this movie is definitly a fav of mine, i enjoy it greatly. love his style, just blows my mind in amazement.

    Rating given: 8

    A comment from Bryen on Fri 26 Mar 2004 15:32 #

  2. Hell Ya, I haven't seen this yet but you better believe I'm gonna buy it . You kick ass Tarintino!!!

    A comment from The Next Director on Mon 16 Aug 2004 16:28 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 8.00 (1 rating)

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