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Comedy Movies - Who Is Cletis Tout?

BUY Who Is Cletis Tout? (dvd cover)
Tim Allen, Christian Slater, Portia de Rossi,
Billy Connolly, Ru Paul
Written and directed by Chris Ver Wiel
Paramount 2003
92 minutes

The tag to Who Is Cletis Tout? is "Getting the alias was half the battle. Surviving it is the other." It rings true in many ways. This is a great crime comedy of sorts with a very interesting story, great performances by Tim Allen (Home Improvement), Christian Slater, and Portia de Rossi. The writing is excellent and the story keeps you guessing all the way through and it is clear only director Chris Ver Wiel could have made the movie he wrote. True movie fans will appreciate the many scenes classic cinema scenes either shown in the background here and there are copied directly in the movie itself.

In Who Is Cletis Tout? Tim Allen plays Critical Jim, a classic movie lover who quotes movie dialogue all the time and happens to be a hit man. His target is photojournalist Cletis Tout who has a tape of a mob boss' son killing a girl. The mob already hit Cletis Tout but he is surprisingly alive and well as the new identity of Trevor Allen Finch, a small-time crook played by Christian Slater. As Critical Jim waits for confirmation his Swiss bank has received payment for services rendered before he kills Tout, he has the latter tell him why his life should be spared.

Slater then tells Critical Jim the story of Micah Donnelly, a magician bank robber who buried a million dollars worth of diamonds before going to jail, how they both escaped from jail in a scene close to The Defiant Ones, got new identities knowing Cletis Tout was dead but not aware he had been fingered by the mob.

In many ways, Who Is Cletis Tout? is a movie about the movies. Critical Jim (Tim Allen) sometimes cuts off Christian Slater to get him to adjust the story to respect the rules of fine filmmaking. This also serves as an interesting comment on the movie itself like when Jim asks if you can have a flashback within a flashback and then writer / director Chris Ver Wiel does exactly that.

As Jim says, there is no movie without a dame and love interest and Portia de Rossi plays that as Tess Donnelly, Micah's daughter, who soon becomes Cletis Tout's / Trevor Allen Finch's love interest. There are many plot twists in this funny crime comedy, all to respect the basic rules of the seventh art.

Who Is Cletis Tout? A really good movie.



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