Natural Born Killers (1994)

"Bad!  Bad!  Bad!  Bad!" -Juliette Lewis to Woody Harrelson

NATURAL BORN KILLERS is an acquired taste, make no mistake.  Good, bad,
*and* ugly, Oliver Stone's hilarious satire on media sensationalism is a
kaleidoscope portrait of America as seen through the eyes of someone on
a bad acid trip.

Expanding upon the narrative techniques employed in JFK, Stone uses
every trick in the book to tell the story of Mickey and Mallory (Woody
Harrelson and Juliette Lewis), two Bonnie-and-Clyde serial killers who
capture the hearts of non-victims all across America.

With his crack team of collaborators and a year's worth of editing,
Stone has mixed 35mm, Super 8, animation, rear projection, slow-motion,
fast-motion, and video with a dazzling array of stock footage, film
clips, and other assorted images.  The effect is all at once impressive,
overpowering, and, well, aimless.

The multimedia tricks are a hallucinatory treat, for sure, but the
director uses them on *every* character in the film-- not just Mickey
and Mallory.  The result is sledgehammer saturation, if you will, that
weighs the film down by the end.  Simply, it gets old.

Acting credits are superb, though, even if the characters (literally)
resemble cartoons.

Harrelson and Lewis are a match made in movie heaven, with Woody
exhibiting some scary signs of intelligence.  Tommy Lee Jones is a riot,
sporting slick hair and Carl Perkins sideburns to play a prison warden.
Tom Sizemore has a field day overacting as the bad-cop-gone-worse hired
by Mr. Jones to arrange an "accident" for Mickey and Mal.

And give some respect to Rodney Dangerfield, perfectly cast as Mallory's
father.  He gets his in a hilarious flashback staged as a sitcom.

The story was written by Quentin Tarantino (RESERVOIR DOGS, PULP
FICTION) and that's obvious.  Bullets fly, body parts are eviscerated,
and everyone says f*** every other word.  Heck, the fact that this orgy
of violence came from a major studio, alone is reason enough to see it!
Listen for a great exchange between Jones and Tom Sizemore-- including a
hilarious off-color Oswald joke!-- late in the film.

Rewrites came from three others, including Stone who, undoubtedly, was
responsible for a slightly strange midsection involving an Indian mystic
and his rattlesnakes.  Shades of THE DOORS?  Rewriting also added the
entire commentary that culminates in a short montage of Amy Fisher, O.J.
Simpson, and Tonya Harding landing square on her Buttafuoco.  (Rated
"R"/130 min.)

DATE LINE:  Take a sensitive soul to see this with you-- you'll have
twice the fun hearing them recoil in shock and horror.

BOTTOM LINE:  Violent as all get-out, it's the best head-trip of the

Grade: A-

Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Legeros

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