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Who Is Cletis Tout?

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Who Is Cletis Tout?

Starring: Christian Slater, Tim Allen
Director: Chris Ver Weil
Rated: R
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: July 2002
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Portia De Rossi, Richard Dreyfuss, RuPaul, Billy Connolly

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

Chris Ver Wiel's WHO IS CLETIS TOUT? is a whimsical little tale told in flashback by Trevor Finch (Christian Slater), a conman freshly escaped from prison, and embellished by Critical Jim (Tim Allen), a hit man who thinks that he has been hired to kill him. Jim is supposed to kill Cletis Tout, but Finch had the bad luck of choosing Cletis Tout, someone with a contract on him, as his fake identity.

After Jim captures Tout, actually Finch, and before he executes him, Jim asks him to tell his story. Jim, whose only two loves are money and movies, coaches him like a director. Speaking almost exclusively in movie quotations, lingo and plots, Jim helps Finch tells his life's story as if it were a pitch to a studio exec.

The story within a story starts in the 1970s as a mime magician steals a fistful of diamonds from a bank and then buries them in a field. The story skips to the present as Finch helps Micah (Richard Dreyfuss), a.k.a. "The Magician," bust out of prison. Tess (Portia de Rossi from "Ally McBeal"), Micah's daughter, joins them to hunt for the loot. Needless to say, there are complications along the way, not the least of which is that there are killers trying to murder Finch's alter ego (Tout) and anyone with him.

"There is nothing like a great movie," Jim tells Finch. WHO IS CLETIS TOUT? is certainly nothing like a great movie, but, with its modest ambitions, it does succeed in being a mildly entertaining one.

WHO IS CLETIS TOUT? runs 1:35. It is rated R for "language, some violence and sexuality" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

My son Jeffrey, age 13, gave it ***. He thought that its movie within a movie structure was interesting.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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