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Pawn Shop Chronicles (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)


Pawn Shop Chronicles


Pawn Shop Chronicles

I can’t decide if Pawn Shop Chronicles is a brilliant post-modern pastiche of Southern gothic storytelling or if it is merely cheesy exploitative trash with some really quirky and sometimes smart dialogue. Honestly, it’s probably a little bit of both.

Pawn Shop Chronicles seems to be attempting to be a southern-fried take on Pulp Fiction or a goofier version of David Lynch’s below-the-Mason-Dixon tales like Wild at Heart. It never quite hits those heights, though, sometimes being a bit more reminiscent of a few really violent and surreal episodes of My Name is Earl. (And in fairness, Earl was a damned good pointed parody of redneck living as well.)

Still, watching Pawn Shop Chronicles, one can’t help but wonder – what was it about this very, very slight film (well, technically it is a compilation of three intertwined short films) attracted so much terrific talent on both sides of the camera?

Director Wayne Kramer was responsible for one of the best films of the last decade: the near-perfect 2003 Vegas fable The Cooler. The cast includes a whole group of impressive big-named b-level Hollywood talent: Paul Walker, Norman Reedus, Elijah Wood, Brendan Fraser, Vincent D’Onofrio, Thomas Jane, Matt Dillon, Lukas Haas, DJ Qualls, Chi McBride, Ashlee Simpson, Pell James, Rachelle Lefevre and Michael Cudlitz.

What would make all these people interested in a film that is populated with Elvis impersonators, homicidal little people, dim white supremacists, sexual predators, paranoid meth dealers, self-conscious racists, bitter gold diggers, robbers in clown masks, surly barbers, the Devil and a couple of dozen naked kidnapped women with Stockholm syndrome?

And did I mention that this is (mostly) a comedy?

I say mostly, because smack in the middle of the thing there is a torture porn scene of such disturbing violence that it pretty much ruins whatever oddball mood the film had been able to cobble together. The movie never quite regains its already off-the-wall stride, though it eventually lightens up considerably again.

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