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Movie Review

Human life is worth less than a Quarter Pounder with cheese in 3,000 Miles to Graceland, a brainless, soulless heist movie sure to show up on TNT’s "Movies for Guys Who Like Movies" wedged between Young Guns II and a Steven Segal epic. Assorted hoodlums and ex-cons meet in the Nevada desert and plan to rob a casino during a gathering of Elvis impersonators. The heavily armed thieves are all disguised as—you guessed it—the king of rock ’n’ roll. (In the recent Reindeer Games, a bunch of Santas pulled a job at Christmastime. Now mutton-chopped malcontents shoot up an Elvis convention. Casino owners take note: If you see more than one guy dressed up like anybody, cuff them to a slot machine and call the cops.) The actual robbery takes place in the film’s first 20 minutes. Then Murphy shoots all of his partners and heads to Canada to have the money laundered. A slight snag occurs when Michael, who had the foresight to don a bulletproof vest, gets hold of the cash first and hits the road along with a woman he just met and her young son. Murphy is a cold-blooded psycho with an Elvis complex who will stop at nothing to relocate the loot. In his wake lie a few sequined jumpsuits and countless bodies assuming room temperature.

positive elements: A few lines of dialogue allude to the need for trust in relationships. Michael—who, unlike Murphy, resists killing people if at all possible—risks his freedom and safety to retrieve a kidnapped Jesse in the film’s climax.

spiritual content: None.

sexual content: The fact that Murphy and Michael are outlaws is clearly an aphrodisiac to attractive younger women. It seems no sooner do Michael and Cybil meet than they’re shown having boisterous sex. The couple shares another illicit romp a few scenes later (both experiences are witnessed by young Jesse). A girl Murphy picks up on the road immediately offers herself to him sexually and later performs fellatio on him while he’s driving. Brutal, bloody gunplay on the casino floor is intercut with shots of scantily clad Vegas showgirls, giving the violence an erotic flair. Murphy takes an explicit sex quiz in a magazine. It is suggested that a prosperous man is having an extramarital affair with his assistant. The camera leers at females in form-fitting outfits and low-cut dresses.

violent content: A coyote is struck violently by a car, and scorpions battle to the death in a computer-generated effect. Several people are beaten up, but the assault gets far worse than a few bloody noses. During the casino heist, dozens of people are shot dead as indiscriminate flurries of gunfire take out uniformed guards, employees and patrons alike. The one bad guy who dies in the holdup has his expired body pitched out of the getaway helicopter. People are threatened at gunpoint. Reckless shootings occur throughout, mostly at the hands of Murphy—a natural born killer. A man is murdered with a bow and arrow. Another is knifed. Several are blown away at close range. Murphy blows up a gas station. He beats an old man to death. He plays demolition derby by ramming Cybil’s car. He shotguns Michael, who falls several stories (yet survives). There’s even a ridiculous roadside duel between Murphy and a patrolman that’s filmed like a showdown at high noon in Dodge City (you half expect a tumbleweed to roll through the scene when Costner stands over the cop to put one more bullet in him for good measure). Rapper Ice-T makes a brief appearance as a hired gun who dangles upside down from a zip line and unloads two automatic weapons into a perimeter comprised of federal agents (one well-placed bullet takes him out, making his theatrics seem both illogical and suicidal). Murphy is finally cornered and riddled with bullets Bonnie and Clyde style. I started to keep track of the body count but gave up when it reached the estimated population of St. Croix.

crude or profane language: Incessant. Nearly 60 f-words and two dozen s-words. Exclamatory uses of God’s name. Also, coarse jokes and bathroom humor throw around anatomical slang and display a general disrespect toward women.

drug and alcohol content: Guys drink beer. Murphy drives down the highway chugging from a bottle of Jack Daniels. The main characters smoke cigarettes like they’re going out of style (which they are). Michael even lets Jesse puff an unfiltered one, which makes the boy ill.

other negative elements: Greed, greed, greed. And there’s not a single person to root for anywhere onscreen. Everyone is corrupt, even the kid. Young Jesse takes pride in following in the footsteps of his namesake, Jesse James. He steals. He swears. He smokes. He disrespects adults. He wields toy six-shooters like a kid wishing they were the real thing.

conclusion: 3,000 Miles to Graceland is barbaric, insulting and socially irresponsible. A buzzsaw-like rock soundtrack drives home the film’s base macho swagger. The casting of Courteney Cox (TV’s Friends) and real-life hubby David Arquette (Never Been Kissed, Ready to Rumble) will likely draw teens despite the film’s R rating. That’s a crime. Kevin Costner told TV Guide, "[3,000 Miles to Graceland] has some violence in it, but it’s a stylistic fun romp and I resent anybody going after it." The guy’s been out in the desert sun too long.

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Kevin Costner as Murphy; Kurt Russell as Michael; Courteney Cox as Cybil Waingrow; David Kaye as Jesse Waingrow; Christian Slater as Hanson; David Arquette as Gus; Jon Lovitz as Jay Peterson; Howie Long as Jack; Bokeem Woodbine as Franklin; Kevin Pollak as Officer Damitry; Thomas Haden Church as Officer Quigley; Ice-T as Hamilton


Demian Lichtenstein ( )


Warner Bros.



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Bob Smithouser

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