Sunday, March 16, 2014

SLITHER (1973) - Howard Zieff


This James Caan ex-con crime comedy starts with a bang. Literally. Caan and his partner are trapped in house under heavy gunfire which later explodes to smithereens. It spends the next hour and fifteen minutes whimpering to a close. Or should I say "slithering" to a close? I'm not sure. I really have no idea why this movie is called Slither. There are no snakes on this plane or in the Airstream camper Caan travels in. Perhaps it is a comment on the film's pace...which is s-s-s-s-slow. And not the good '70s rambling road movie kinda slow. Slow as in no interesting destination.

But then I watched Slither mostly for the Caan, not the plot. He's OK and mostly winces his way through every scene, as if he knew he was trapped in a go-nowhere film perched somewhere between comedy and action-drama but not delivering on either end. According to Wikipedia, Caan's self-appraisal rating for his performance in this film was a "4" on a scale of 10. I'd say that's just about right.

There are other interesting actors in this filml, none with much interesting to do. Peter Boyle, Allen Garfield, Alex Rocco. Sally Kellerman gets the plum role as a hippy-dippy love interest who robs diners on the side. There's a weird moment where, before sleeping with Caan at a roadside motel, she asks him if he slept with any men in the joint, not because she cares if he's gay but because she wants her body to remain "pure and clean." Caan doesn't really answer the question ("Do I look like the type of guy..." etc.). She sleeps with him anyway.

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