|Call it The Good, The Bad and the Doofy, or Julia & Brad's Excellent Adventure. But don't call The Mexican an example of cinema at its best, cause it ain't. If anything, The Mexican is an example of how, among other things, decent actors can, with the "right" combination of character and performance, become absolutely unwatchable.
Part of the problem is that The Mexican is schizophrenic. Is it a doomed-love-type romance? Is it the Roberto Benigni-esque adventures of a dithering idiot? Is it a road movie crossed with a sweeps week episode of Will and Grace? Is it a gangster film in the heavily track-marked vein of Tarantino? Nobody knows! The filmmakers sure as hell didn't! And now they've passed their indecision and confusion on to you, the viewer.
What passes for a plot: a particularly unfortunate car accident makes Jerry (Brad Pitt) the unwilling, and mostly incompetent, bagboy for the mob's L.A. branch. After five years, he's almost worked his way out of debt, but for one last job: retrieving a legendary hand-carved pistol (the eponymous "Mexican") from, der, Mexico. His harpy girlfriend Sam (Julia Roberts) is furious, because they'd planned to move to Vegas together and this last job simply doesn't fit her timetable. Balcony scene. Argument. Jerry takes off for Meh-hee-co; Sam takes off for Vegas.
Could Hollywood please declare a moratorium on the use of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" for action sequences? It would make our jobs that much more tolerable.
Sam hits the road, stops at an outlet mall and gets kidnapped by a soft-spoken-yet-quite-homicidal hit man named Leroy, played by The Sopranos' James Gandolfini. Suddenly, the movie gets several shades brighter, smarter, funnier, more interesting and all-around better as Gandolfini appears onscreen. We can't tell if Leroy's calm dispensing of wisdom and occasional menace is part of the comedy, or if we were just glad to see Julia held at gunpoint. Either way, Gandolfini is a blessing.
Back in Mexico, Jerry acquires the Mexican, winds up with a dead body, loses the Mexican, acquires a grizzly dog (one of the movie's finest performances), gets the Mexican back, loses it again, gets help from a mob higher-up flown in for the occasion, blah de blah de gets it back, doodle doodle dee loses it, etc. We're all for twisting plots, but there's a ceiling on the number of twists, folks. If your script requires a flowchart to determine who has the damn gun when, you might want to consider simplifying things a bit.
We're also in favor of the recurring gag. Lord, how we love the recurring gag! We can forgive the recurring gag almost anything. But even we get a little cranky when the recurring gag is obviously used to distract the audience from gaping plot holes. We had to wonder, how do you take so many good actors and turn out such a pile of dung?
We found the answer when we did a little research on the IMDB: The Mexican's director, Gore Verbinski, is best known for the Budweiser frogs. So if you find bad animatronic amphibians croaking the same damn syllables over and over again the height of entertainment, we invite you to enjoy The Mexican. And we encourage you not to breed.