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2 Days in the Valley

Released: 1996

Genre: Comedy

Runtime: 1 hr 44 min

MPAA Rating: R

Director: John Herzfeld

Starring: Danny Aiello, Greg Cruttwell, Jeff Daniels, Teri Hatcher, Glenne Headly, Peter Horton, Marsha Mason, Paul Mazursky, James Spader, Charlize Theron

It is film about 48 hours in the lives of a group of people who are drawn together by a murder.

This intricate story all comes together nicely.

Review by: SteveRhodes

Added: 7 years ago

Last year Robert Altman brought us his delightful SHORT CUTS. That film is formed out of a set of seemly unrelated stories that find their way together.

Similarly in 2 DAYS IN THE VALLEY, writer and director John Herzfeld weaves us a tale of strange and apparently unrelated characters. Herzfeld's characters border on the bizarre, and yet each is endearing. The context that will bring them all together and provide the hook for the audience is a murder. The mystery is why was the person killed.

By midway you have learned the mystery's answer, but by then you are wrapped up in the story and must know how all of the mini-dramas that have burst forth will be resolved. In short, the characters are all compelling, and except for the one completely bad guy, you empathize and care about them all. As for the one pure villain, he is carefully drawn and quite effective.

As the movie starts, many parallel stories begin to blossom. In the first, two hit men, Lee (James Spader) and his partner Dosmo (Danny Aiello), break into Roy Fox (Peter Horton) and his ex wife, Becky Fox's (Teri Hatcher), bedroom in the middle of the night. Lee is fond of sticking his stop watch in front of people's eyes and giving them exactly one minute to do whatever he tells them. Roy flunks the one minute pop quiz about Korean espionage and is terminated. Becky has been drugged into unconsciousness and thus is unable to help him with the answers.

At the same time vice cops Alex (Jeff Daniels) and his partner Wes (Eric Stoltz) are trying to bust a massage parlor, but Wes develops too soft a heart so the bust is a bust. Alex wants to be a homicide detective but has been stuck in the wrong jobs in the police department for the last ten years.

Lee goes back to his motel room where his girlfriend and coconspirator Helga (Charlize Theron) are staying. They engage in some very impressive sex which again features his infamous stop watch.

Across town art dealer Alan Hooper has a kidney stone attack in the middle of the street. When no one will come to his aid, he is finally rescued by a car thief who is stealing a new car with the license plate RIDEME.

A despondent, highly unsuccessful, but extremely sweet writer and director, Teddy (played by real life writer, director and actor Paul Mazursky), is trying to find someone to take care of his little dog. You see, Teddy has secret plans to commit suicide. He is helped by nurse Audrey (Marsha Mason) who says his dog can come to live at her brother Alan's house since he is an art dealer and has lots of room.

Dosmo ends up holding the art dealer and his secretary (Glenne Headly) hostage. Dosmo is a sensitive hit man, and Headly thinks she recognizes him from somewhere. At any rate, Dosmo fixes everyone some pasta using his favorite recipe.

Back at the crime scene, our vice cops get to help out until Doug (Keith Carradine) comes along. Doug is a real homicide cop so he sends the amateurs away.

This all happens in the first ten minutes or so. The rest of the picture has all of these characters revealing themselves and getting more and more intertwined.

The script is great. The art dealer is a real pain. He tells his personal secretary that she needs liposuction and perhaps some silicon implants, and he would be happy to pay for it. This is not a come on, he is just a fastidious type. He has already paid to have her nose fixed. If you are rich enough, the moral seems to be that even your middle-aged secretary should be flawless.

When Doug finds a planted clue he tells his partner, "I know we're Valley detectives so we're not all that bright, but how stupid does he think we are?"

Every character has a story to tell. None are one dimensional. We learn that Becky Fox is an Olympic skier with an obsessive training program, but she has never finished higher than fourth place.

The acting is excellent. One of my favorite small scenes is at the cemetery where Teddy is about to blow his brains out, but his cute little dog just keeps looking at him with complete love and adoration. The dog's innocence and ignorance is so poignant.

This intricate story all comes together nicely. The overall mystery is not predictable nor are a lot of the minor dramas. The parts of the show that are predictable are still compelling. Although I thought the picture was weird when it began, I soon got into its rhythms and loved it. I got to know a fascinating group of people, and what more should one ask of a movie.

2 DAYS IN THE VALLEY runs about two hours. It is rated R. There is sex, nudity, violence and bad language. On an offensive scale, they would all score pretty low, and I think the film would be fine for most teenagers. I recommend this quirky but rewarding little mystery and character study to you, and I give it ***.