This ensemble comedy manages to combine all the staples of about half a dozen genres (hitmen, animal movies, romantic comedy, slapstick, action, navel gazer), and mesh them with great relish into one smorgasbord of a plot. Before Crash and Amores Perros took multistranded stories to a new and more serious depth, Two Days In The Valley was a much more light hearted effort, riffing on LA and perhaps even on Hollywood movie conventions themselves.
It's an actor' movie, with James Spader standout as an ice cool assassin, complemented by his improbably sexy sidekick, Charlize Theron, in the sort of wardrobe that draws the kind of attention you'd think assassins would try and avoid. They `hit' Roy Foxx, as he lies next to his wife, played by Teri Hatcher. The crime scene is visited by Jeff Daniels and Eric Stolz, two underachieving valley cops. In fact, underachieving is kind of a theme for the movie.. all the characters are under achieving in some way or other, like Paul Mazursky's character, the ex director Teddy Peppers, who would take his own life it wasn't for his dog (Dogs in fact playing quite a prominent role in the plotlines). Then there's the movies standout performance - Danny Aiello, as Dosmo, the washed up hitman who finds refuge at the home of an insufferable (English, of course) art dealer. Aiello's portrayal of a man losing his pride, his work, even his wig, for crying out loud, are some of the best moments of the movie, not least for the touching bond that grows between him and the art dealer's waspish PA.
Confused? Well the plot is somewhat convoluted and relies greatly on startling coincidences.. and yet if you allow it these indulgences, it's actually quite fun. It's really a series of generally pleasing little vignettes, successfully moulded into an overarching storyline.
It's a movie of no great depth, and no great meaning other than some gentle satire. Perhaps some commentary on how underachieving really depends on your point of view, and redemption is possible for everyone if you look in the right places. But despite its lack of ambition, it's nagging feeling of style over substance, it still works, and finishes on a note of some optimism for almost everyone concerned.
A Qualified thumbs up.