Thursday, February 14, 2008

Quick thoughts on Pulp Fiction and volleyball

When Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction came out in 1994 it immediately become such a cultural phenomenon that I couldn't help but being disappointed when I first saw it. I've seen it a few times since -- including a couple days ago on cable -- and now my opinion of the movie keeps rising.

The movie is inconsistent due to some of the interrelated storylines being better than others -- Bruce Willis's scenes with his French girlfriend are particularly bad -- but the movie sparkles whenever John Travolta is on screen. And to paraphrase Travolta's Vincent Vega character, some of the best things about Pulp Fiction are the "little" details. Two, in particular, that get me every time.

The first comes when Eric Stoltz's domesticated suburbanite drug dealer character (a great role, which was allegedly first offered to Kurt Cobian) is eating a late night bowl of cereal while watching TV from his bed. The camera pulls back a bit to subtly reveal the cereal's box. It's Fruit Brute, an obscure frosted fruit flavored line the General Mills sold between 1975 to 1983 as a cousin to their more popular Count Chocula.

It is always funny to see an adult eat a child's cereal, but there is something about Fruit Brute's cartoon werewolf mascot that is particularly humorous. Tarantino realized this and had saved a box for a prop ever since the cereal had been discontinued.

The other little detail that I love is towards the end of the movie, when Vega and Samuel Jackson's character arrive at Monster Joe's Truck and Tow. They need to dispose of a dead body. Having had to ditch their black hitman suits, which were ruined by the splattered brains of the recently-deceased, they show up wearing the ill-fitted athletic shirts and baggy shorts they borrowed from their associate's house. Upon seeing them, the daughter of Monster Joe sarcastically wonders if the hired killers are "going to a volleyball game or something."

This drove home perfectly the point that vicious hitmen, previously full of pomp and attitude, can be reduced to looking like a couple benign and dorky recreational volleyball players with a mere change of clothes. It had to be volleyball too. Wondering if they were going to play softball or touch football just wouldn't be the same.

Although after viewing this video, I do have to concede volleyball is a tad edgier than I previously thought.


Anonymous said...

Little known (non) fact: The glowing briefcase that everyone thinks holds Marcellus Wallace's soul is in fact filled with Fruit Brute.

I always found it odd that Julia Sweeney was cast as Monster Joe's daughter. The Wolf's apparent fondness for her is also a bit strange.

JT said...

What ever happened to Pat. She had quite a run in the 90s. Another neat Pulp Fiction fact is, at the beginning of the film, when Vincent and Jules are interrogating the holders of Wallace's alleged soul, the guy who bust in firing is Alexis Arquette, of VHI celebreality (and being sister/brother to Rosanna and Patricia and David) transexual fame, back when his name was Robert Arquette.