What do you think was the catalyst that caused me to make such a concerted effort to seek out and watch Love and a .45? Was it: A) Good word of mouth; B) The film's trailer; C) Renée Zellweger in cut-off jean shorts; or D) The music of The Reverend Horton Heat. If it was 'A,' you would have probably seen it when it came out, and according to my research, it came out 1994, so, you can forget about 'A.' As for 'B,' well, I never watched the trailer, simple as that. And I'm not really a fan of so-called psychobilly music (unless of course we're talking about The Cramps). In other words, that's rules out 'D.' You know what that means, right? Book me a room in the loony bin, I just watched me a movie solely because Renée Zellweger purportedly wears cut-off jean shorts in it for an unknown amount of time. Well, you can stop throwing around words like, "purportedly" and "unknown," because Renée Zellweger not only wears cut-off jean shorts in this movie, she's wears them from start to finish. You mean? That's right, Renée Zellweger, whose legginess and acting ability have always been undervalued as far as I'm concerned, is in cut-off jean shorts when the film begins and she's in cut-off jean shorts when it ends. Oh, and before you ask, yes, you can win one of them stupid ass Oscar thingies and still be undervalued as a thespian. The cut-off jean shorts she wears in this film, by the way, are cut so high, there's very little denim left. Only problem being, first time director C.M. Talkington isn't a pervert. (How can you tell?) Are you serious? The film is a severely lacking when it comes to gratuitous shots of Renée Zellweger either standing or sitting in cut-off jean shorts.
(Channeling every lovers on the lam film that came before it, Love and a...) Hold on, who said I was finished talking about Renée Zellweger in cut-off jean shorts? (You can't possibly have anything else to say about Renée Zellweger in cut-off jean shorts.) Oh, can't I, eh? Well, we'll just see about that, shall we? Wait, you might be right. Just kidding, I could a write a thousand words about Renée Zellweger and her cut-off jean shorts. But you know what? I won't. You wanna know why? Because I care.
Okay, now where was I? Oh, yeah, Renée Zellweger's cut-off jean shorts. (Liar.) They don't have a name, nor do they have any dialogue, but Renée Zellweger's cut-off jean shorts speak volumes in this film. Volumes!!!
It's a good thing Renée Zellweger has two legs worthy enough to dangle in a downwardly fashion from the cut-off jean shorts that star in this movie, or else things could have gotten messy. I mean, just the mere the thought of a less leggy actress poured into these cut-off jean shorts makes my brain hurt. (Whoa, "brain hurt"? What are you, some sort of caveman?) I'm sorry, the thought of some not as leggy actress donning the exalted shards of diminutive denim that which you speak so fondly of would have given me a severe headache. (That's more like it.)
Put aside your love of Renée Zellweger in cut-off jean shorts for a second. (Why?) I'll tell you why. Gil Bellows is about to rob a convenience store. (You interrupted my flow to tell me this?) Ah, but what I failed to mention is Gil Bellows kills it in the film's opening scene. (Kills it?!? Gil Bellows, the guy from Ally McBeal?) Don't hold that show against good old Gil, as it was still an asinine twinkle festering inside David E. Kelly's semi-hairless nut-sack. No, Gil Bellows, playing career criminal Watty Watts, is amazing in this film.
Entering a convenience store (with Wiley Wiggins behind the counter), Watty Watts, whose charisma manages to shine through even in an orange ski mask, gives the young clerk a few life lessons while robbing the joint at gun point.
Meanwhile, somewhere down the road, Watty's sidekick, the alluring Starlene Cheatham (Renée Zellweger), is busy making sure the armored car heading Watty's way doesn't arrive to pick up the large sum of money Watty plans on stealing. If you're wondering how Starlene is going to manage this feet. Remember, never underestimate the power of a leggy lady in roadway distress.
After imparting some wisdom to Wiley Wiggins, and bagging around 450 dollars in cash (10% of the loot is given to Wiley Wiggins for his troubles), Watty Watts, via narration, waxes poetically about his station in life. Calling himself "an artist," Watty Watts declares that all you really need to survive in this world is love and a .45; I get teary-eyed just thinking about that.
When "Turn It On" by The Flaming Lips is done doing its thang on the soundtrack, a soundtrack that includes songs by Mazzy Star, Meat Puppets, Butthole Surfers, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and the aforementioned The Reverend Horton Heat (they also make a cameo as the live entertainment at a strip club), we see what kind of home two people who "specialize in risk management" live in. If you guessed a trailer, you would be right.
The serenity of their morning is sullied somewhat when Dinosaur Bob (Jeffrey Combs) and Creepy Cody (Jace Alexander) show up collect the money Watty Watts apparently owes a local gangster. My first impression of Dinosaur Bob and Creepy Cody is that these are two take being scumbags seriously. I mean, look at Jeffrey Combs' bolo tie, it practically screams Frank Booth. It's funny you should mention Frank Booth, as it appears as if Dinosaur Bob and Creepy Cody have both been attending classes at The Frank Booth Academy for Advanced Scumbaggery (it's adjacent to the dumpster behind The Learning Annex). They're not quite ready to graduate, but the quality of the scumbaggery they're putting out there as they defiled Watty Watts trailer park garden was first-rate.
Is Watty Watts' trailer the Grand Central Station for scumbags? The only reason I ask is because just after Dinosaur Bob and Creepy Cody slither away, Billy Mack Black (Rory Cochrane) shows up at Watty's door. However, unlike those other scumbags, Billy and Watty are on friendly terms. Sure, Starlene thinks he's a worthless piece of shit, but Watty needs Billy's help to land a big score (wedding rings don't pay for themselves).
Of course, the big score ends up going south when Billy kills a convenience store clerk (don't worry, it wasn't Wiley Wiggins). What do you expect when your partner in crime is a speed-snorting psychopath? I have no idea, but according to Watty Watts, the best thing to do when he gets out of hand is to stab him in the neck with a fork.
Just as Watty and Starlene were planning their trip to Mexico, two more scumbags in the form of Ranger X (Michael Bowen from Valley Girl) and Simp (Scott Roland) show up.
Not only did they interrupt Watty and Starlene's vacation plans, they interrupted some of Renée Zellweger's best leggy lounging. And for that, they both deserve to be shot point blank in the chest.
Hitting the road in a 1972 Plymouth Roadrunner, Watty Watts and Starlene get hitched by Jack Nance (the bride wore cut-off jean shorts), visit Starlene's parents, two handicapped suburban hippies played by Peter Fonda (whose dialogue is filtered through a voice-box) and Ann Wedgeworth, cash a cheque at the bank, and buy some film for Starlene's Polaroid camera.
On top of being wanted by Johnny Law, Watty Watts and Starlene are also being pursued by Billy Mack Black, Dinosaur Bob, and Creepy Cody. And if you thought the actors playing these three were gnawing on the scenery when they were onscreen separately, you should see them when they're all in the same scene together. To call the performances given by Rory Cochrane, Jeffrey Combs, and Jace Alexander "over the top" would definitely be one of them understatement thingies. If I had to choose one, I would definitely give Rory Cochrane the award for overacting in this film. Though, to be fair, the reason mostly has to do with the head tattoo (a giant eagle) he gets midway through the film.
If you like movies that feature scumbags in bolo ties cocking their guns every five seconds for dramatic effect, Renée Zellweger in cut-off jean shorts, atypical 1990s indie rock, and are hip about time, then I highly recommend Love and a .45.