Director: Gore Verbinski
Cast: Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, James Gandolfini, Bob Balaban
MPAA Rating: (for violence and language)
Running Time: 2:03
Release Date: 3/2/01
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Review by Mark Dujsik
While The Mexican may be advertised as a romantic comedy starring Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, it is more honest to call it a comedy of errors starring Brad Pitt combined with a conversational relationship study starring Julia Roberts and James Gandolfini. It may not be the movie people were expecting, but it is still something special.
The movie’s first shot involves a stop light which goes from yellow to green, and we hear a car accident. The importance of this shot is explained later in the film although not directly. The entire movie seems to play on similar situations involving chance that, while not new, still provide for some entertainment.
Pitt plays Jerry Welbach who works for the mob and is not too intelligent. In fact, he’s pretty dumb. The movie could have gone overboard on displaying his ignorance, but it surprisingly does not. Jerry is not a favorite in the organization after causing the boss to go to jail and messing up his last job. He is given an ultimatum: go to Mexico and retrieve a rare pistol or die. Jerry chooses the obvious.
However, he had promised his girlfriend Samantha (Roberts) that his last job would really be his last. She is not too happy with his decision and leaves him to go to Vegas while he heads to Mexico. Jerry is left with adventures to bring the pistol back and is treated to the story of the gun. Sam is kidnapped on her way to Vegas by a hit man named Leroy (Gandolfini) and soon begins to have conversations with him about relationships.
As I said before, the movie is divided in two. I enjoyed the adventures involving Jerry and the gun, but the real surprise here are the scenes between Roberts and Gandolfini. Indeed, after much success and recognition from starring in the television series The Sopranos, Gandolfini is certainly ready to make the jump to the big screen. He has had small roles in pretty big movies (Crimson Tide and Get Shorty come to mind), but here he steals every scene he is in and becomes the best character in the movie. His performance does have the basic sketch of his character on The Sopranos, but it should be expected considering the fact he is playing a hit man. I would not be one criticize it on this fact.
Pitt is dependable as usual, although he does show a great sense of comic timing. After Snatch, I hope he continues to do some comedy work as I think he has great promise. I was annoyed with Julia Roberts the first time she appeared on screen. The entire scene, she screams at Jerry, and she started to get on my nerves. Luckily, for the rest of the movie she becomes Roberts and looses this annoying quality. I have a feeling Gandolfini’s character helps a lot also.
The film slows down during the last half hour. There is a big reason for this, but I will not reveal it. I will note that during this time, Pitt and Roberts have the most screen time together, and their relationship is one of almost constant fighting. While some may complain that the two are not on screen together enough, I would hate to think what would happen if they were. They would be screaming and yelling and arguing; I would rather not sit through another The Story of Us. We do finish the story of the pistol during this time, and I was engrossed in the tale. We also get a pleasant surprise in the form of a cameo from a uncredited star.
I admired The Mexican for the Roberts-Gandolfini scenes, and I enjoyed Pitt’s adventures. I wish the last fourth had been tightened; it drags as it is. Even so, it is still entertaining.
Copyright © 2001 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.