Four Rooms (1995)

For reasons I cannot fully explain, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and laughed throughout. Blame it on my crazy sense of humor. Blame it on my love of gratuitous film violence and insanity. But mostly, blame it on Tim Roth. Roth’s manic, inspired portrayal of swishy, spasticated, neurotic bellhop “Ted” resulted in one of the most entertaining characters I’ve seen in a while.

Here’s the deal- “Four Rooms” is a pseudo-anthology film featuring four segments written and directed by four filmmakers. Each segment follows Ted (Roth) through one insane New Year spent at a hotel and punctuated by violence, weird sexuality, and mutilation. Three of the segments are directed by filmmakers I’m not really familiar with, and the fourth is done by Tarantino.

I liked all of the stories in the film, but in different ways. I didn’t really know what to make of the first one. A coven of witches staying at the hotel, played by prominent ’90s icons such as Madonna and Lili Taylor, discover they need sperm to complete their witchy potion to bring the goddess Diana to life. And who else for the job but twitchy hotel bellboy Roth?

The second story involves an insane husband and wife who want to Ted to participate in their kinky sex games. The third and the funniest, “The Misbehavers,” follows Ted as he is bribed into caring for Antonio Banderas’s two whiny children. The kids, who exemplify the reason I hate small children, soon push Ted over the edge with their demands. But how will Ted react when there’s a real emergency on hand?

I actually thought Tarantino’s short, “The Man From Hollywood,” was the weakest, because it seemed self-indulgent, suffering from uninterrupted periods of Tarantino reading his dialogue. In this one, Ted comes across a Hollywood bigwig (Tarantino) with a shocking proposition.

I watched this movie free of the knowledge that it had been critically panned, with an abysmal 14% on Rotten Tomatoes. I think you have to have a certain kind of sense of humor to appreciate this kind of movie. For me, it was very funny, because it wasn’t the usual wishy-washy cliche type of comedy.

I derived the majority of the humor from Tim Roth’s absurdly physical performance. It reminded me a little of Charlie Chaplin for the ’90s, which was, obviously, a less innocent time for cinema than the Tramp’s heyday. Overall, “Four Rooms” is an interesting and overlooked black comedy for those who like their comedy absurd and bizarre.

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