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Reviews of Pulp Fiction

John Travolta was able to regain his status as one of the top actors in Hollywood because of his part in Pulp Fiction. The movie does a nice job of mixing comedy and crime. John Travolta and Samuel Jackson play hitmen but they aren't really seen as bad guys because we are privy to their nicer qualities.

The movie starts out with a couple enjoying their meal and conversation in a coffee shop. The couple discuss some of their past robberies and their options moving forward. The man(Rico) decides they should rob the coffee shop on the spur of the moment. The woman(Yolanda) agrees. After the couple point their guns around and start shouting, the film takes us to a new scene.

Samuel Jackson is driving with John Travolta as they discuss the little differences between the United States and Europe. One small difference they chat about is the way the McDonald's menu is different in Europe because they don't have the metric system. John Travolta tells Samuel Jackson that the Quarter Pounder is called the Burger Royale because they wouldn't know what a Quarter Pounder is over there.

John Travolta and Samuel Jackson pay a visit to some associates of their boss Marsellus Wallace. Prior to their visit the audience starts to see the values of these criminals when they have a long talk about foot massages. Samuel Jackson explains that their boss, Marsellus had one of their associates thrown out of a 4 story building and nearly killed just because he gave Marsellus' wife(Uma Thurman) a foot massage. A debate ensues as Samuel Jackson holds the opinion that Marsellus went way too far, while John Travolta's character Vincent thinks differently. John Travolta's character makes a point of saying that he doesn't exactly justify the actions taken by Marsellus, but he does understand the reasoning behind the actions.

After Samuel Jackson and John Travolta shoot one of the associates, the film jumps to a new scene where Bruce Willis is seen talking to Marsellus. Marsellus is working out a deal with Bruce Willis(who plays a boxer) so that Bruce Willis will go down in an agreed upon round of the fight. John Travlota's character then walks in and calls Bruce Willis' character a palooka. A fight almost ensues, but Marsellus calls John Travolta's character(Vincent) over for a visit.

The next scene shows John Travolta's character buying drugs before his wife with Marsellus' wife. He shoots up and then goes to pick up Mia(played by Uma Thurman). Uma Thurman does not come downstairs right away as she is finishing up some drugs of her own.

They dine at Jack Rabbit Slims which is like a time machine restaurant. The theme of the restaurant is from the time of Elvis.

After the dinner Vincent(John Travolta) finds himself in an awkward situation. He is obviously attracted to Mia(Uma Thurman), but he promised his boss he would take her out to dinner while he was out of town and that is all. He tells himself not to be rude but to leave quickly. His plan is to have one drink and then say goodnight.

Vincent's plan changes when he comes out of the bathroom only to find Uma Thurman passed out because she overdosed on drugs. He quickly drives her to his buddy who is a drug dealer and has equipment to give her an adrenalin shot to the heart to bring her back before dying. They argue over who should give her the shot. Eventually they give her the shot and Vincent is able to take her home.

The next scene is one in which Butch(played by Bruce Willis) is having a flashback to a point in time in which Christopher Walken gives him his father's wrist watch which was passed on before his death as a prisoner of war. Unfortunately for Butch's opponent, this flashback dream was right befor the boxing match. Bruce was so impacted by the flashback that he fought feverishly, killing his opponent. After the fight it is obvious to the viewer that Butch's flashback is only part of the story. He had planned to betray Marsellus all along. His bookie Scotty had placed numerous bets for him and it is clear that he did not intend to take a dive the way he had promised Marsellus. There is one problem before Butch can leave to Knoxville and start collecting his winnings in Tennessee, the wrist watch. His girlfriend forgot to pack it so he decides to risk going back to his apartment to retrieve it.

Butch retrievs the watch and then fixes some toaster pastries. He notices a large gun on the counter and picks it up. The toilet flushes and out walks Vincent. As soon as the pastries pop, Butch unloads on Vincent. While driving away, Butch sees Marsellus walking on the sidewalk. Vincent hits him with the car and then crashes with another car. Marsellus chases Butch into a shop where they both get a gun pulled on them. Butch and Marsellus are both tied up by the storeowner and his friend Zed. They do unspeakable things to Marsellus while Butch manages to free himself. Butch stabs one of the men while Marsellus gets free and then tells Butch to step aside. Marsellus then shoots Zed and tells Butch to leave. He tells Butch that he has lost all his LA privileges and Butch agrees that he will not return to Los Angeles.

The viewers are taken back to a scene earlier in the movie where Vincent and Jules(John Travolta and Samuel Jackson) are shooting an associate of Marsellus Wallace in an apartment.

Things get heated in the car after the visit. John Travolta, while sitting in the front seat, is talking to Marvin in the back seat. They are discussing the fact that at the apartment where they shot the associate of Marsellus, they were almost killed by another gunman who was in the closet. Samuel Jackson calls the event a miracle while John Travolta prefers to think of it as a freak occurance. John Travolta turns around to ask Marvin his opinion. He asks Marvin if he believes like Jules(Samuel Jackson) that God came down and stopped the bullets. As they are talking, Vincent's gun goes off and Marvin is killed instantly as he is shot in the face. Vincent and Jules panic as they don't have too many friends in the San Fernando Valley but they need to get off the streets fast. They arrive at the home of Quentin Tarantino(Jimmy) who is not happy to see them. Samuel Jackson calls Marsellus who brings in The Wolf(Harvey Keitel). The Wolf who prefers to go by Winston(played by Harvey Keitel) helps them clean up the mess. In the process of cleaning up, Winston tells Jimmy that they need linens. Jimmy explains that the linens used are from his Uncle Conrad and Aung Ginie who passed away. Winston compensates Jimmy by offering to buy an oak bedroom set. They dispose of the body at Monster Joe's in North Hollywood.

At this point Vincent and Jules take a cab to breakfast. The viewer is then taken full circle as the two arrive at the restaurant shown at the beginning of the film. They find themselves caught up in the restaurant robbery. Jules refuses to give up the briefcase and he takes the gun from the robber and turns the table on them. They let the robbers get away and then they leave the restaurant as well and so the film ends.

The movie jumps around quite a bit and it does not proceed in a constant chronological line. Pulp Fiction was one of the craziest, funniest, most interesting movies I was able to see in the 1990s. I would recommend it to anyone who likes seeing films about adventure, crime and comedy. --Eric Sprague
Review by Amazon.com reprinted with permission
Amazon.com essential video

With the knockout one-two punch of 1992's Reservoir Dogs and 1994's Pulp Fiction writer-director Quentin Tarantino stunned the filmmaking world, exploding into prominence as a cinematic heavyweight contender. But Pulp Fiction was more than just the follow-up to an impressive first feature, or the winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival, or a script stuffed with the sort of juicy bubblegum dialogue actors just love to chew, or the vehicle that reestablished John Travolta on the A-list, or the relatively low-budget ($8 million) independent showcase for an ultrahip mixture of established marquee names and rising stars from the indie scene (among them Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, Harvey Keitel, Christopher Walken, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Julia Sweeney, Kathy Griffin, and Phil Lamar). It was more, even, than an unprecedented $100-million-plus hit for indie distributor Miramax. Pulp Fiction was a sensation. No, it was not the Second Coming (I actually think Reservoir Dogs is a more substantial film; and P.T. Anderson outdid Tarantino in 1997 by making his directorial debut with two even more mature and accomplished pictures, Hard Eight and Boogie Nights). But Pulp Fiction packs so much energy and invention into telling its nonchronologically interwoven short stories (all about temptation, corruption, and redemption amongst modern criminals, large and small) it leaves viewers both exhilarated and exhausted--hearts racing and knuckles white from the ride. (Oh, and the infectious, surf-guitar-based soundtrack is tastier than a Royale with Cheese.) --Jim Emerson

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Music Review From the Motion Picture by Amazon.com reprinted with permission:
Dick Dale's surf-guitar provided the memorable title theme ("Misirlou"), for Quentin Tarantino's 1994 smash, and although that sound runs throughout the soundtrack (along with bits and pieces of dialog from the movie), this is a pretty eclectic bunch of really terrific songs. I don't know how it all manages to hang together, but it does (you might say the same for the interwoven stories in the movie). Where else are you going to find Chuck Berry, Maria McKee, Al Green, The Statler Brothers, Kool & the Gang, Urge Overkill (singing a Neil Diamond ballad!), Ricky Nelson, Dusty Springfield, and the Tornadoes (among others) one album? McKee's beautiful "If Love is a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags)" is a standout, partly because it's less familiar. One of the few soundtracks of the '90s that went into the CD player and stayed there for weeks and months thereafter. --Jim Emerson
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