Hemorrhaging enthusiasm, ruthlessly violent, and light-headed with its own hard-core grunge worldview, LOVE AND A .45 unmistakably positions director Carty Talkington among the many pretenders to Tarantino's throne. Unfortunately, a zingy pop look and the fledgling star turns of its
bound-for-better cast are all but undone by the unrelenting condescension of the dialogue and the painful familiarity of the story line.
Watty Watts (Gil Bellows) and his trashy soulmate, Starlene (Renee Zellweger), live happily in their cozy little lovers' nest somewhere in the Texas outback. Watty takes his day job seriously, holding up 7-11s while dispensing ersatz career advice to the desultory youths behind the counters.
Even a courtesy call from Creepy Cody and Dino Bob, a couple of speed-crazed loan sharks, can't put a damper on the honeymoon. Then old friend Billy Mack Black (Rory Cochrane) ropes Watty into a piece-of-cake armed robbery, which winds up leaving a checkout girl dead. They part less than amicably,
and Watty and Starlene take it on the lam. Before long, they've knocked over a few banks, been married by a small-town Justice of the Peace (Jack Nance), and killed some cops in a daring midday shoot-out, for which they become media celebrities.
The pair hide out with Starlene's hippie parents (Ann Wedgeworth and Peter Fonda, playing an acid casualty who can only speak through a voicebox) before striking out for mythic Mexico. Meanwhile, budding psychopath Billy Mack--now with a shaved head and a tattooed scalp--stalks the young lovers
for revenge, helps the loan sharks brutally torture and kill Starlene's parents, and leaves Dino Bob and Creepy Cody for dead on the roadside. When he catches up to Watty and Starlene in Mexico, he dies in the ensuing shoot-out, and the newlyweds shimmer off into the sunset on some legendary acid
her father gave them as a wedding present.
LOVE AND A .45 relies on trailer parks, tattoo parlors, hippie crash pads, black-lit topless bars, and Mexican border towns to wallpaper its manic world of rock-and-roll rednecks, a subliterate fantasia where the men are all either Kallikaks or Jukes, and the women seem to like it that way.
Perhaps the impetus behind this extravagant caricature of white trash culture lies buried in the credits. Producer Darin Scott's previous outings include MENACE II SOCIETY, TO SLEEP WITH ANGER, and the in-the-house rap send-up FEAR OF A BLACK HAT, in which he puts in a cameo as a fast-talking,
Farrakhan-like Black Muslim. Given Scott's track record, it's tempting to read LOVE AND A .45 as a conscious attempt to turn blaxploitation on its head, depicting a white subculture with much the same supercilious contempt with which pictures like DOLEMITE or FOXY BROWN cartooned the urban black
underclass. If so, the bravado is admirable, but the point is hard to discern. While turnabout may be fair play, it's not progress. (Graphic violence, sexual situations, adult situations, substance abuse, extreme profanity.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: R
- Review: Hemorrhaging enthusiasm, ruthlessly violent, and light-headed with its own hard-core grunge worldview, LOVE AND A .45 unmistakably positions director Carty Talkington among the many pretenders to Tarantino's throne. Unfortunately, a zingy pop look and the… (more)