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The Mexican Reviews

A mangy dog story about a genial screw-up, his over-therapized girlfriend and a valuable antique pistol. If Jerry Welbach (Brad Pitt) had kept his eyes on the road five years earlier, he wouldn't have back-ended that car. Its owner, Mr. Margoles (Gene Hackman), wouldn't have gone to jail over the body in the trunk, and Jerry wouldn't have had to pay for his mistake by running errands for Margoles's henchman (Bob Balaban). Now Jerry's indenture is almost over, and all that's left is the proverbial one last job. Jerry must meet Margoles's grandson Beck (David Krumholtz) in Mexico, collect the pistol — an intricately ornamented piece dubbed "The Mexican" and graced with an elaborate history — and convey gun and grandson back to the U.S. The job is, naturally, a disaster from the get-go. Furious at the prospect of postponing their long-planned move to Las Vegas, Jerry's girlfriend, Sam (Julia Roberts), declares that she's going — with or without Jerry. Jerry opts to placate Margoles, figuring he can patch things up with Sam later. He quickly locates Beck and the gun, then just as quickly finds himself in possession of neither. Meanwhile, the Vegas-bound Sam is kidnapped by burly baddie Leroy (James Gandolfini), who promises not to kill her as long as Jerry doesn't mess things up. The pistol is passed from hand to hand with Jerry in hot pursuit, while Sam and Leroy develop an unlikely friendship en route to Las Vegas. Apparently intended as a larky, character-driven adventure with dark underpinnings, this attenuated road movie was originally envisioned as a vehicle for relative unknowns, and might have worked better that way: It's hard to see Jerry and Sam for the sight of two mega-stars artfully drabbed down and emoting like mad. But Gandolfini delivers a surprising variation on his Sopranos persona, and the plot takes a couple of entertaining detours along the road to romantic redemption.