2 Days In The Valley

on September 27, 1996 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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A big-name cast hands this odd black comedy/drama more cachet than it warrants. Had first-time filmmaker John Herzfeld lacked a cavalcade of stars, it's doubtful the project would have gotten any attention in Hollywood. "Grand Canyon" meets "Pulp Fiction" meets "Six Degrees of Separation" is the best way to describe what's going on in this filmic valley, in which Danny Aiello and James Spader portray hitmen hired to kill the philandering ex-husband (Peter Horton) of an Olympic athlete (Teri Hatcher). Eric Stoltz and Jeff Daniels are two vice squad cops who come along in the murder's aftermath. Paul Mazursky plays a suicidal has-been film and TV director. And Glenne Headley is the abused secretary of a nasty Brit (Greg Cruttwell), both of whom cross the path of Aiello's killer.
Oh yes, there's also a plot, of sorts, a seemingly complex skein that has cops and citizens, killers and innocents come together in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley with often explosive results. "2 Days in the Valley's" chief virtue is its crazy-quilt tale that often changes direction. Tonally, however, the film is inconsistent; Herzfeld's marriage of dark humor with graphic violence isn't compatible, and his occasional moral statements about cheapened life stick out like sore thumbs. He's also quite bad with his actors. Aiello and Headley merely repeat their redundant shtick from previous films, and Spader, as the suaver of the hitmen, is ridiculous. And there seems to be no point to Daniels' long-haired, unstable redneck of a cop, who wanders in from some more tragic movie.
Had "2 Days in the Valley" settled on a point of view and been more thoughtful, it might have gelled. As is, it's a hodgepodge of various storylines that just don't hang together. You won't guess where it's going, but the trip isn't really worth taking. Starring James Spader, Danny Aiello and Paul Mazursky. Directed and written by John Herzfeld. Produced by Jeff Wald and Herb Nanas. An MGM release. Comedy/drama. Rated R for violence, sexuality and language. Running time: 105 min. Screened at the Toronto fest. Opens wide 9/27
Tags: James Spader, Danny Aiello, Paul Mazursky, John Herzfeld, Jeff Wald, Herb Nanas, An MGM release, Comedy/drama, violemce, crazy, murder, cops
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