3000 Miles to Graceland (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Robbins Recipe: take Reindeer Games, replace the little casino with a big casino. Increase the budget. Change the Santa outfits to Elvis. You're there.
One of my regular correspondents dropped me a line warning me to keep an eye on this one, because the advance word hinted that it could be a disaster of Battlefield Earth proportions.

Financially and artistically, that might be true, but it isn't the kind of disaster that is really fun to rip. It isn't conceptually ludicrous like Habitat, or over-the-top camp like Battlefield Earth, or philosophically pretentious trash like Road House. Instead, it has the core of a good movie, but is edited, cast, and focused completely wrong.


There is a brief look at the top of Courtney Cox's buns.

There are many scenes that focus on Courteney's cleavage, or her clothed butt, or up her skirt

Here are some signs that it might have contained a good movie somewhere inside it:
  1. the trailer is one of the best in the last couple of years
  2. the music video, featuring Kurt Russell as Elvis, and played over the closing credits, is great fun.
  3. there are some pretty cool people in this movie. I mean, who's cooler than Snake Plisskin? Not to mention Christian Slater, David Arquette, Jon Lovitz and plenty more. Even the people with one or two lines are pretty cool, like Kevin Pollak, Ice-T, Paul Anka, and Howie Long.

Then what the hell happened to make it so bad? Well, as I see it, it went down like this. It could have been a hip, stylish fast-paced action caper ala Oceans 11, or a trash-talkin' gore fest ala Tarantino, or a wacky comedy ala an adult version of It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, or a sweet love story about bad people who find some redemption and learn to trust each other, and get a second chance. But you can't really combine all of those. Imagine that you have Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant, tracking down the Three Stooges. Just doesn't really work does it?

  • You can't show me Kurt Russell participating in an robbery which results in blowing away about a zillion federal agents, then expect me to really enjoy the ending where he sails off with his boat and his new family. OK, I know he wasn't as bad a guy as Costner's character, but he was pretty bad. Getting the audience to root for the bad guys can work in certain situations. I rooted for the Clooney character to get a second chance in Out of Sight, but he didn't single-handedly make orphans of the children of a zillion cops. My general guideline is that cons, stings, and property theft can be forgiven. Murder can't. Sorry. 
  • You can't make lots of zany jokes combined with brutal killing. Costner kids about killing people, then slays them anyway, and we see his brutality in graphic detail. Why are we supposed to enjoy this, or pay to see it? Is cavalier disdain for human life a form of wacky entertainment? If so, there may yet be hope for my Charles Manson sitcom.
  • The casting doesn't really work for combining genres - do you want to make Jon Lovitz a famous money launderer, or to make federal agents of Pollak and Thomas Haden Church? I guess that would work pretty well in a pure comedy, but these were essentially serious roles. In fact, I didn't understand the casting of Lovitz and Church at all. Pollak did OK because he's versatile, but he was essentially wasted. Of course, Pollak was only one of many talented people who had nothing to do with their primary talents. Russell, Slater, Arquette and others can be very cool when they have the right material. They either didn't have the right material (Russell), or any material (Slater and Arquette).


When all was said and done, it simply developed into Reindeer Games with different costumes and an even meaner-spirited attitude. Period.

DVD info from Amazon

It is a good looking 2.35:1 transfer, but with no features at all

So blame the director for failing to assemble a worthwhile whole out of some promising parts.

And blame Kurt Russell for not knowing better, despite his double connection to The King. Not only did he first become a star by playing Elvis flawlessly back in 1979, but he made his film debut in an Elvis movie - as the little kid who was a constant thorn in The King's side in "It Happened at the World's Fair" in 1963!

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.2, Apollo users 46/100. These scores are poor, but still much better than the critical reviews.
  • With their dollars ... a disaster. It was made for $62 million, and finished with a domestic gross below $20 million, despite a near-blockbuster 2500 screen distribution plan.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a D. It could have been an OK genre picture, but couldn't settle on a genre.

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