Stars: Bruce Willis, Nick Nolte, Barbara Hershey, Lukas Haas
Good actors acting well in a horrendously bad story filled with incredibly weird, dysfunctional characters. Putrid. A film version of this Kurt Vonnegut novel might have flown forty years ago solely for its “pop” structure: the oddball characterizations and the editing, but today, this is just dreck. I find it hard to believe that Bruce Willis went out of his way to make sure this thing got made.
Willis plays a confused and sporadically suicidal Dwayne Hoover, a celebrity car dealer in Midland City, smack dab in the middle of Main Street, USA. He’s the kind of car dealer you see at 5 in the morning doing all those stupid and embarrassing TV commercials, the one who keeps an inflatable elephant in his parking lot. Right now he’s on the verge of a mental breakdown, unhappy with life in general, his pill-popping, TV-watching wife Celia (Barbara Hershey) and his lousy lounge singer son Bunny (Lukas Haas). He hates the people who come into his dealership and fawn all over him as much as he hates his own likeness on billboards around town and the life- sized posters and pictures plastered everywhere. Hoover is deranged and desperate. And Willis does a good job of it.
His best salesman is Harry Le Sabre, a closet transvestite obsessed with keeping his quirky life a secret. He’s played ingeniously by Nick Nolte whose character has enough energy to keep this whole ball of mess going. The only other thing Harry wants in life is to win a pair of tickets for him and his gal to go to Hawaii to presumably dress up in grass skirts while they hang from the chandeliers
The other main character is Kilgore Trout (Albert Finney), a loony loner of a pulp fiction writer, who gets invited to Midland City’s art festival. Is he the answer to Hoover’s dreams? Will Kilgore Trout be able to tell Hoover the meaning of life? Dwayne Hoover sure hopes so. So do we because otherwise there’s very little meaning in this whole film.
Also features Glenne Headly as saucy secretary Francine Pefko, Buck Henry as Fred T. Barry, Omar Epps as Wayne Hoobler, the ex-con whose mission in life is to work for Dwayne Hoover and Vicki Lewis as Harry’s transvestite-loving wife Grace.
Lotta says the only reason you might want to see this film is for the acting abilities of Willis and Nolte. The story stinks and frankly you’ll probably want to rewind the video after 10 minutes so save your bucks.