The Million Dollar Hotel
**.9 GM
Starring: Jeremy Davies, Milla Jovovich, Peter Stormare, Jimmy Smits, Mel Gibson, Gloria Stuart, Amanda Plummer, Donal Logue, Bud Cort, Ellen Cleghorne, Tim Roth, Julian Sands, Tom Bower, Harris Yulin


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Love amongst the broken.

That's the general theme of this slow-paced film, taking place in a beat-up hotel that houses society's cast-offs and misfits. One of the inhabitants happens to be Izzy, the son of a big-time influential muckety-muck, and when he turns up dead, it's up to Skinner (Mel Gibson) - a detective who doesn't ask questions - to find out if it was murder or suicide, although the muckety-muck just wants it to be murder, facts be damned, since suicide would make him look bad. But all his suspects are nuts - Tom Tom (Jeremy Davies) is spastic and slow-in-the-head, Eloise (Milla Jovovich) believes she doesn't exist, Dixie (Peter Stormare) believes he's the fifth Beatle, Geronimo (Jimmy Smits) is a half-assed "tar artist," Vivien (Amanda Plummer) thinks Izzy was madly in love with her, Shorty (Bud Cort) is a drunk ex-agent with a silly toupee, Jessica (Gloria Stuart) is a flighty old gal with a comical potty-mouth, yadda McYadda McYadda. Skinner has to wade through these goofs to figure out the truth, which no one really wants figured out anyway. Luckily, Tom Tom is madly in love with Eloise, so he can use that to his advantage.

The film has some interesting moments, some cool cinematography, some good U2 songs (what with Bono being a co-writer of the film) and some entertaining characters, but it also feels a bit too long and a little too tenuous in its structure. Dixie's a funny character just because it's kinda fun to see a guy what thinks he's John Lennon gallavanting around in a film (although one wonders how much they had to pay Michael Jackson for the use of Beatles lyrics), and the relationship between Tom Tom and Eloise is occasionally touching. The performances are all pretty decent, although there isn't really much particularly gripping about them. Jovovich has some good moments, and Davies is pretty consistent with Tom Tom.

The film as a whole, though, while beautifully shot and conceptually interesting, winds up never truly capturing anything very compelling and, as such, doesn't really hit its mark. I like the idea of a bunch of broken people living together in their own little skewed commune in a run-down hotel with a hard-boiled FBI agent having to shift around his standard game plans to deal with them, but the film doesn't seem to be all that well put together, as if some stuff that should have been in there was cut, and maybe other stuff that could have been left behind remained, and the end result being a film whose slow pace unfortunately starts to feel like a drag after a while.

By the way, if anyone was wondering how a new Mel Gibson movie with this much star power working for it got a video release about two months after its limited theatrical release, it's most likely because of The Hollywood Reporter quoting Gibson's apparent critique of the film: "I thought it was as boring as a dog's ass." Much as I dig "Braveheart" and enjoy Mel's performances, he does strike me as more of a "Jan DeBont" guy than a "Wim Wenders" guy. I don't see Mel going on Letterman and saying "I hate my new film" as being a big selling point.

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