Monday, July 29, 2013

Pawn Shop Chronicles

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Yeah, there's going to be Pawn Stars jokes in this review...in fact, it starts with one!  (oops, spoiler)



Pawn Shop Chronicles – 4 out of 5

I hope Chumlee is in this one!  (See, the disclaimer said there would Pawn Stars jokes!)

Wait, I’m being informed that it’s actually Pawn SHOP Chronicles


"I'll give you like 20 bucks for it..." (Okay, that's my last Pawn Stars joke.)


Pawn Stars Shop Chronicles is an anthology film that centers on a pawn shop owned and operated by Alton and Johnson (Vincent D’Onofrio and Chi McBride) and the stories that interconnect between other-worldly and eccentric characters (read that as Southerners) that spread across the film after they visit the shop to pawn their items. One story sees two white supremacist; Raw Dog (Paul Walker) and Randy (Kevin Rankin), try to rob the drug dealer Stanley (Norman Reedus) out of his hard, illegal work. Another story sees Richard (Matt Dillion) stumble upon his missing wife’s wedding ring in the shop and his journey to find her…only to discover she is being held captive by a sexual, abusive deviant played by Elijah Wood. Finally, we have the story of the wannabe Elvis impersonator (Brendan Fraser) who finds himself in a town that is straight out of The Twilight Zone and ends up making a deal with the Devil to turn himself from a slumming bum into the greatest performer since…well…Elvis.

I'm a little concerned that Elijah Wood is getting good at playing a crazy killer...


The movie is basically Tales from the Crypt with a blasphemous and redneck-y tone tossed in. Despite the fact that Fred Durst (yes, the man who nearly brought about the apocalypse with the band Limp Bizkit—I’m telling you, that band is mentioned in the Book of Revelations) acted as a producer for the film (and nearly directed it…now that is in the Bible), I actually found myself enjoying the film; despite the fact there isn’t a single redeeming character in the film.  Almost all bad deeds go unpunished and there isn’t a happy ending—or even happy event—throughout the entire running length.


Every road trip my girlfriend and I have been on has ended like this...
it's like they are filming my life, man!


In past reviews (like my ones for 21 & Over and Project X) I’ve complained about how the main characters are completely unlikeable and end up failing to be decent protagonists for the film and it may sound like I’m a hypocrite for saying that I liked this movie because all the characters in this film are kinda repugnant, deplorable and disgusting but these characters weren’t meant to be people you cared about or, unlike in the other films, even wanted to be around. For the most part, you’re not meant to like them. They’re awful, selfish, dishonorable wretches of human skin that lack morals and ethics…and that’s why they worked for me and why I found each and every one of their stories to be interesting when, in films like Project X, qualities like these made it impossible for me to want to watch the film or see the journey of characters. This movie doesn’t portray them as heroes or people to be emulated; instead, they are sad sacks of human filth caught in a really fucking strange world that makes their tales actually interesting to me. They felt more like a curiosity you were meant to observe rather than “some guys I want to party with.”


Thomas Jane makes a small (but memorable) appearance but I'm conflicted on whether
I should make a reference to The Punisher or Hung in this caption.


I mentioned before this film is pretty damn blasphemous—which, if you read some message boards and reviews online, ended up offending some people. This aspect didn’t bother me because it was something that made the film perversely captivating to me. Evil is the name of the game in all these stories as every character is doing awful things, uncovering terrible activities or, like with Fraser’s character, literally selling their soul to Beelzebub for a taste at material wealth. Hidden religious (both for and against it) images, themes and tones are tossed in the film, and done so at such a frequent pace, that it almost becomes a game where you try to find the imagery. This element only help sells the odd, alternate-universe feel the movie gives its locations as nothing feels real and, ultimately, gives the impression…well, like I said in the synopsis…like The Twilight Zone.


I think there's other things I would sell my soul for but to each their own.


I really like strange movies (so I watch a lot of Japanese films) because sometimes an escape from your typical linear story is refreshing and the oddities this movie throws at you was something I enjoyed. The locale for the film isn’t your normal (or as normal as it gets in the South) town. It seems to exist in a Purgatory-like reality. Rules about life and death—even commonly held ideas of what constitutes normal behavior—don’t play here and, when you throw in equally strange characters, it made for a film that I found myself quickly getting into.


A strange world where Paul Walker breaks out from his usual roles.


The film also had a terrific and eclectic cast. D’Onofrio and McBride did a great job acting as the glue and central support structure of the film as the pawn shop owners who come in contact with most of the players in the movie. Even more amazing was seeing Paul Walker forgo playing the pretty boy with perfect white teeth to play a brain-dead, racist country bumpkin junkie…and, surprisingly, he did it well! I honestly don’t think there was a role that wasn’t done decently in the film or done at a level that wasn’t working for the insane tone for the film. I really enjoyed Fraser as the down-on-his-luck Elvis impersonator that really isn’t that good at impersonating The King and, I’m sorry to say ladies, but you don’t get to see Norman Reedus’ face and his part is really small. I guess you’ll have to keep watching The Walking Dead to get your Reedus fix…or follow him on Twitter (seriously, that guy tweets a lot!).


At this point, I say kill Daryl.  I wanna see if the ladies have the balls to go through
with the whole riot promise.


Pawn Shop Chronicles is one of those acquired taste films. Most likely you’re going to watch it and hate it because the characters are shitty people or you’re offended by the blasphemous imagery and themes or you’ll watch it and be like me and say it’s kind of interesting.  I really liked how each story, though not directly connected through the characters' interactions with each other, all tied together in some form like some kind of redneck domino effect. 

The trailer I watched for it stated it’s like a redneck Pulp Fiction but, after sitting through it myself, I think it’s more of a redneck Tales from the Crypt…only, unlike the show hosted by the Crypt Keeper, nobody in the film gets any form of comeuppance or learn their lesson.

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