Who is Cletis Tout?


Who is Cletis Tout? Review

Watching Tim Allen's career slowly slip into oblivion is a cineaste's masochistic delight. After a slew of bad choices in the past few years - including Joe Somebody, Big Trouble, and Jungle2Jungle - Tim Allen is slowly heading into those dangerous waters involving films starring Christian Slater. Like Robin Williams, he wants to break out of his goofball typecasting, but it just isn't taking.

A hodgepodge about two escaped convicts searching for a cache of diamonds, a hitman with a "heart of gold" who only speaks in movie quotes (complete with the movie's production studio), a standard ingénue/love interest, two bumbling mob boys, and the typical overworked police detective - the whole thing spirals into one of the most blatant Tarantino clones I've seen.

In the film, two thieves, Finch (Christian Slater) - a forger with morals, and Micah (Richard Dreyfuss) - a shady magician, break out of the most benign of prisons to recover a score of diamonds from one of Micah's previous heist twenty years ago. After arranging new identities, Finch's morgue contact Sabin (an underused Billy Connelly) mistakenly hands Finch the paperwork of one dead Cletis Tout. The problem is that Cletis Tout, a sleazy videographer, captured one of the mob boss's son accidentally kill a hooker and ended up the main briquette at the annual mob BBQ.

When Finch returns to Cletis' residence to retrieve the dead man's passport, he ends up with two big problems. One is a very tall cross-dresser (RuPaul in a really bad cameo), who wants more from Finch than a cup of sugar, and the other is the ire of the Mob, which now believes they killed the wrong guy. After numerous attempts on Finch's life by two frivolous mob henchmen, the mob calls up Critical Jim (Tim Allen) to finish out the contract and end the short resurrection of Cletis Tout. Toss in the most ridiculous of love stories involving Micah's daughter Tess (Portia De Rossi in yet another bad movie) and the inane subplot of retrieving the buried diamonds from a minimal security prison.

The major obstacle with this film is its plot structure. The first five minutes are spent revolving around Critical Jim's acceptance of the contract and his capture of Cletis Tout/Finch. It then shifts into a flashback scenario (played in real time!) in which Cletis Tout/Finch tells his tale of a jewel heist, a prison break, and a beautiful girl in the form of a movie pitch, in order to convince Critical Jim of his real identity. The catch he only has ninety minutes before the mob boys call and deposit the cash in Critical Jim's bank account. Any suspense or drama which could have been generated from this type of structure is lost in the use of the flashback scenario and the willingness of Allen's character to buy this ridiculous story of Finch's.

The cleverness of Allen's hitman character to speak in movie talk becomes stale within his first few lines of dialogue. Writer/director Chris Ver Wiel's desperate attempt at wit is lost, leaving the character of Critical Jim two-dimensional and pointless. The blink-and-you-missed-it appearance of Dreyfuss and the awful acting of Slater and de Rossi add enough boulders to the ship to take it completely under. Not to mention: What's up with that title?

"Hello, I'm Christian, and I would like to purchase your pigeon."

Who is Cletis Tout?

Facts and Figures

Run time: 92 mins

In Theaters: Friday 21st December 2001

Box Office USA: $64.9k

Distributed by: Paramount Classics


Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 23%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 43

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew


Starring: as Trevor Allen Finch, as Critical Jim, as Tess Donnelly, as Micah Donnelly, as Dr Savian, as Ginger Markum