Talk about a disappointment. Four Rooms was pretty universally panned by critics, earning a rotten 27% on rottentomatoes.com (60% being "fresh" or good). I'll give it 2 stars out of 5, I'd have given it one but Quentin Tarantino's ending was really good. As for the rest of it, well, where do I even start?
Eh, let's start with the basics.
Starring: Tim Roth in all four segments
Rating: A completely unnecessary R.
Two women get topless (three if you include one with
electrical tape on her nipples), a couple of characters smoke pot, and Quentin Tarantino
says "fuck" a lot. Remove these elements and the movie hasn't lost anything and could easily
be rated PG.
Four rooms was an experiment, one that failed terribly and should probably not be repeated. I know the scientific method says you need to verify your results are repeatable, but I'm pretty sure a lot of people would be happy to let this one go.
The gimmick is that Tim Roth plays a bellhop at a Los Angeles hotel that's past its prime, starting his first day on New Year's Eve, alone. During the night he has four wacky adventures in different rooms: Each one written and directed by a different director and featuring one big-name actor. All I can say about this is that it doesn't leave any single person to hold responsible, but there's plenty of blame to spread around.
The Missing Ingredient
Written and directed by Allison Anders. I have no idea who she is and I haven't seen another movie she was involved with. Featuring Madonna playing against type as a bisexual nymphomaniac.
Even people who liked this movie agree that this was the worst of the lot. The plot is entirely too linear and predictable. A coven of "witches" bring some magical ingredients to the hotel's honeymoon suite to undo a spell that trapped their goddess Diana (no, not that Diana (I don't care what Diana you were thinking of, it wasn't that one)) in a statue. Except one of them failed to bring her ingredient, (a mouthful of semen, are you laughing yet?) so they decide to get a replacement from the bellhop.
The punchline? He cooperates (off screen), the spell works, and a blonde woman rises from the suite's hot tub. Hooray, I guess.
The Wrong Man
Written and directed by Alexandre Rockwell, another one I've never heard of. Featuring Jennifer Beals, who spends most of the segment gagged, perhaps the only good decision the director made.
The bellhop next receives a phone call from a party that needs ice. Except they can't remember what room they're in and guess 404. They're wrong... in fact they're off by an entire floor.
So the bellhop brings a bucket of ice to the wrong room, where he's accosted by a man with a large revolver and a heart condition role playing a fantasy with his wife where he's upset because she slept with someone named Theodore.
I dunno what's going on here, there's so many plot holes it's like the director just gave up and let the story run amok. So far as I can tell, the husband tied up his wife and waited for someone to randomly walk into the room, so he could accuse him of being the man she cheated on him with, at gunpoint. This actually happens at least twice during the night. He's constantly popping nitroglycerine for his heart attacks and walks out of the room, leaving the bellhop the option of just walking out the door, which for whatever reason he winds up not doing. The bellhop then gives an impassioned rant over how it turns out his name really was Theodore but nobody's called him that since the bullies in grade school, he and the husband kiss, there's a heart attack, he tries to climb out a 4th story window and nearly gets vomited upon, and then Jessica Beals begins commenting at length on how big the bellhop's penis is, spewing euphemisms for at least twice as long as it would have been funny.
During this entire ordeal, Rockwell seems to have forgotten to include any jokes beyond some vague homoerotic innuendo between the husband and the bellhop.
Again, there's no punchline, no zinger, and no real ending. As the bellhop leaves the room, one of the lost partygoers who was looking for the ice in the first place wanders into the room and the role playing starts all over again, tying up all the loose ends in a neat little bow. Or not.
Written and directed by Robert Rodriguez, who's best known for a string of mediocre sometimes family-friendly but always brainless action flicks. Featuring Antonio Banderas, because Rodriguez isn't allowed to make two movies in a row without him.
Roger Ebert says "This is slapstick on a grand scale" as if that's a good thing. Banderas and his wife are getting dressed for a New Year's party and decide at the last minute to leave the kids behind. But since he doesn't trust babysitters, he decides to leave the bellhop in charge of the little rascals for $500. Of course he has bellhopping to do, so he has to leave them alone at times.
While he's gone, the kids play with a hypodermic needle, smoke cigarettes, drink champagne, and find a dead body in the box springs of the bed. Unexpectedly, Benderas comes back to the hotel early carrying his drunken, unconscious wife. The bellhop races them back to their room, where he discovers all the mischief the moppets have gotten into, slapping the cigarette and champagne away, throwing up over the body he didn't believe was there, and getting the needle jammed into his leg.
Benderas shows up just in time to see the champagne catch fire (fun fact: champagne isn't flammable), the needle sticking out of the bellhop's leg, the kids drinking and smoking, Salma Hayek dancing in a bikini on TV, and the mattress shoved away to reveal the dead body.
The punchline: As the fire sprinklers go off, drenching the room, Benderas asks "Did they misbehave?"
I don't know who was directing the scenes in between the main segments, but he looks like a genius in comparison. The bellhop calls up his boss to complain that his evening isn't going so well, only the phone is answered by a chronic pot smoking bubblehead with ADD. After an exchange that lasts entirely too long, the phone is finally handed over to his boss, who promises that she'll be right down to take over if he'll just please handle whatever the celebrity in the penthouse suite wants. If the hotel is ever going to get its glory days back it needs to treat the celebrity guests right, so he grudgingly agrees.
The Man from Hollywood
Written, directed by, and starring Quentin Tarantino, and featuring an uncredited Bruce Willis.
Like pretty much everything else Quentin Tarantino does, this takes forever to get where it's going, wandering around more or less at random until it finally stumbles into a conclusion. Terrantino even pokes fun at himself by admitting this halfway through the segment. The bellhop is asked to bring up a few things to the penthouse suite... a cutting board, a meat cleaver, a ball of twine, three nails, a donut, and a club sandwich (two of the guests were hungry). The nails, twine, cutting board, and meat cleaver are needed so that they could play out a scene from an old Alfred Hitchcock episode (passport says: in the original episode, the nails and twine were to secure the hand to the board, but here they are discarded as unnecessary).
When this segment finally stops wandering around and finds some direction, it makes the whole segment worth waiting through. Unfortunately it can't save the whole film.