What today gets by as "an indie comedy" would in past decades have been called what it really is, a drive-in cheapy, shlock, or simply lousy.
A discouragingly unappealing cast (Richard Dreyfuss, Tim Allen, RuPaul, Christian Slater) destroy whatever humor or excitement might otherwise have been squeezed from a weak script's potential as a crime noir parody.
Who Is Cletis Tout? (2001) is neither funny enough nor suspenseful enough to qualify as either animal, but is just kind of blah.
Throw in a dash of Romantic Comedy on the side (with Portia de Rossi at the story's fringe fulfilling minimalist leading lady duties) & you have the perfect date film because you can completely ignore the film & not worry you missed anything while making out.
Tim Allen plays Critical Jim a neurotic hitman who has been hired to kill Cletis Tout. The real Cletis is already dead, & Trevor Finch (Slater), to avoid the law, has taken over the wrong identity. While Finch & his buddy Micah (Dreyfuss) try to recover hidden loot, Critical Jim makes endlessly moronic references to old movies as he prepares to kill Finch.
The dialogue as written screams "scripted by a film geek" but Tim Allen cannot make this bad idea for a character work, & the only way it could've been worse would be if someone even less appealing like Dan Akroyd or Chevy Chase had attempted it. His is the pivotal role, & since he can't pull it off, everyone's support role collapses with his.
If writer/director Chris Ver Wiel intended to do this as a living, Cletis Tout seems to have put the kibosh on a deservedly shortlived career. Viewers for whom cutesie-poo can slip by as comedic will like it. For the majority it will range in effect from forgettably innocuous to actively annoying.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl