Guns, Girls and Gambling


Product Details3 Stars

I saw the trailer for Guns, Girls and Gambling on Hit & Run last week and thought it held some promise.  Any movie with multiple Elvis impersonators, a busty blonde assassin, a casino heist and a recognizable ensemble cast should be entertaining.  Don’t get me wrong, it was entertaining, but it was also a little annoying at times.  There was a lot of potential in this film that fell a little short in my opinion because of the style it was shot in.  I’m not a film student, so I don’t know if this has a name or not, but I’ll do my best to try and explain one of the things that bothered me.  Remember in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly when they introduced each character?  They’d kind of zoom in on the face, do a freeze frame, and flash the character’s “name” on the screen?  That worked back then.  The characters didn’t really have names, the “names” they were given matched to the title of the film, it was only done in the first few minutes of the movie, and there were only three of them.  Guns, Girls and Gambling did it for every character.  And they were introducing characters probably until the halfway point.  Perhaps someone was trying to be a little too stylized?  Also, in my opinion, the film used the “Yesterday” “Day Before Yesterday” “Today” captions either poorly or just too many times.  You should be able to tell your story properly without aids to map out when things are happening.  There was one other case where the movie tried too hard to be too clever: a character asks for a quick recap of why something was happening, and the other character tells them, but we’re shown quick flashbacks of the first twenty minutes of the movie.  Kind of poor I thought.

Guns, Girls and Gambling follows the story of John Smith (Christian Slater) who has been left by his girlfriend and decides to hit an Indian (Native American) casino in Utah to bury his troubles.  After having his wallet stolen he figures things can’t get any worse so he enters an Elvis impersonation contest.  He fails miserably, giving a terrible Elvis performance, but things aren’t all that bad, he gets invited to the inner sanctum of the casino to play poker with the other contestants: the winner (Gary Oldman), “Asian Elvis” (Anthony Brandon Wong), “Gay Elvis” (Chris Kattan), and “Midget Little Person Elvis” (Tony Cox).  Waking up the next morning at the poker table he finds he has been framed for the theft of an ancient Apache mask.  After avoiding death at the hands of the casino’s enforcers, Smith sets out to track down the real thief, running into more interested parties than you can count. That’s chronologically how the plot proceeds, but on screen we first see the the middle act of the film where an Elvis gets shot by “The Blonde” (Helena Mattsson), an Edgar Allan Poe quoting assassin, then we flash back to Smith being beaten up by casino security.  But since that doesn’t help us, Smith/Slater narrates us back to the previous day where we see the initial events that I described.  Along his quest to find the mask and avoid being killed, Smith runs into “The Girl Next Door” (Megan Park), a pair of killers “The Cowboy” (Jeff Fahey) and Mo (Danny James), “The Rancher” (Powers Boothe), “The Chief” (Gordon Tootoosis), two corrupt sheriffs (one owned by The Rancher, one owned by The Chief) (Dane Cook and Sam Trammell) another killer called “The Indian”, “The College Kid” and probably a few more characters who were given titles that I can’t remember….but don’t worry, they all had freeze frames and title cards, and I’ll admit movies like this remind me that I’m still a sucker for blondes.

As you can see, the cast was quite large, and actually quite good.  The quality of the acting and the humour were all that kept me going in this one.  Some of the humour did become stale after a while, because you can only tell so many “Native American” / “Indian” or “midget” / “little person” PC jokes in one movie.  That’s not to say that Guns, Girls and Gambling didn’t try to make more of them…  It did play nicely with a few film staples that I thought were quite funny such as the classic “look behind you” which turned into a pretty good running gag, but the film as a whole could have been a lot better.  The plot was well written, if not well presented.  Everything is tied up a the end, brought together and explained in full detail, maybe not realizing where less explanation could have been more.  There were a few twists, quite a few laughs and a bit of a history lesson in Guns, Girls and Gambling as writer/director Michael Winnick seemed to want to educate almost more than he wanted to make the real movie, by telling parts of the story of Pocahontas and John Smith at several points in the film, or through The Blonde’s Poe quotations.  Guns, Girls and Gambling was still fairly enjoyable even though it seems like it was trying a bit too hard at times to win us over.

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Posted on 13-04-17, in 3 Star, Movie Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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