Mixing film noir with flights of fantasy, this ineffectual straight-to-video release concerns a handicapped man who escapes his painful existence by imagining himself as a 1950s private eye.
Paralyzed from the waist down as a result of spinal cancer, Richard (Jim Metzler) is in the care of his annoying sister Peep (Kay Lenz). Richard spends his days getting drunk, staring at a pretty blonde neighbor (Andrea Thompson), and watching old crime movies on TV. A friend, new-age adherent
Duncan (John Ritter) urges him to escape his pain by "objectifying" himself into an imaginary world. Following this advice, Richard leaves his wheelchair behind as '50s-era gumshoe Rick Stone.
Sultry widow Jade Norfleet (Thompson) visits Stone's office, seeking help after being attacked. Meanwhile, back in the real world, Richard becomes aggravated with Peep and her boyfriend Syd (Billy Bob Thornton), questions his life, and reverts further into his fictional story. There he obtains
information about the attack on Jade from low-life sources, makes love to Jade, and discovers that her sister Madge (Lenz) and seedy cop Monk (Thornton) were responsible for Jade's assault. Stone is kidnapped, but in the nick of time, Jade rescues Stone, Monk is shot, and before dying, murders
Jade. Back in the real world, Richard kicks out Peep and Syd, and discovers a renewed interest in life. But when he has a sudden attack and passes away, Richard awakens as fantasy-hero Rick Stone, with Jade alive and at his side.
Although boasting a playful concept and earnest performances, A GUN, A CAR, A BLONDE rates as lackluster, since neither the real life drama nor the "low-rent flatfoot" mystery are enticing enough on their own merits. Thus, the film's success rests solely on the transitions made from one story line
to another, a device that gets old rather quickly. The detective sequences are played in a suprisingly straight manner--although the dialogue is so trite they come across as more of a sendup.
While Metzler is effective as the paralyzed protagonist, he makes a bland hero in the detective story line, seeming less hard-boiled than simply lethargic. Despite being billed third in the credits, Thornton (who earlier co-starred with Metzler in ONE FALSE MOVE) is given little to do, playing the
type of thug that Elisha Cook Jr. used to essay on a regular basis. Only Ritter brings a modicum of humor and warmth to the proceedings.
Hampered by minimal production values, the film stands as a well-intentioned but utterly muddled mix of hackneyed drama and homogenized pulp fiction. (Violence, extensive nudity, substance abuse, profanity.)
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