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Thursday (1998)

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thursday

Score: 7/10

Genre: Crime Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 27 min.

Release Date: November 13th, 1998 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Skip Woods Actors: Thomas Jane, Aaron Eckhart, Paulina Porizkova, James Le Gros, Paula Marshall, Michael Jeter, Glenn Plummer, Mickey Rourke

A

vehemently cynical, abrasive, and intense picture full of stylized gangdom inhabitants, “Thursday” is at once entertaining, off-putting, and hilarious. Brimming with a wildly eclectic mix of over-the-top characters and bizarrely absorbing situations, this day-in-the-life trial of a gunman trying to go straight proves to be a worthy experiment in prying humor from dread. It’s also an obvious derivation of Quentin Tarantino’s hip masterpiece “Pulp Fiction,” with attempts to capitalize upon and imitate that contemporary classic (a flashback sequence that shows a lead role shooting up baddies and sporting a hairstyle that exactly matches John Travolta’s do is easily one step too far).

Nick (Aaron Eckhart) stops by Casey’s (Thomas Jane) place to catch up on old times. Casey was a former gunman for drug dealers, but he’s since reformed, become an architect, married a successful businesswoman (Paula Marshall), and now contemplates adopting a child. But Nick, who still has ties to the gangster underworld, leaves a briefcase full of heroin in the house before borrowing a car to run a few errands. Disgusted and angered by the introduction of contraband into his home, Casey flushes it all down the kitchen sink. That’s when, one at a time, Nick’s double-crossed accomplices, rapping Rastafarian messengers, and crooked cops all come a-knocking for the unsuspecting Casey, who is about to have one unbelievable Thursday.

The film opens with a striking sequence in a gas station, in which Nick seeks out the best deal for a cup of coffee. After pondering the size to purchase, he initiates a verbal altercation with the cashier when he demands a free Snackie cake and tries to use a $50 bill to pay. Resulting in comedic bloodshed, the situation goes from bad to worse as a cop intervenes and becomes caught in the most unusual of circumstances. This introductory segment perfectly establishes the tone for the rest of the film, which never takes itself too seriously as it presents outrageous characters (and grisly scenarios) that seem self-aware of their own existence amidst facetious coincidences.

“Thursday” is broken into segments based on various events and times during the course of a single day. This effect is very much like the narrative seen in “Pulp Fiction,” which is similarly assigned chapters – though “Thursday” doesn’t alter chronology save for the occasional flashback. Also, as in Tarantino’s works, music magnificently introduces each scene and each character. Highly idiosyncratic and wickedly farcical creations, such as Ice the Jamaican hitman pizza delivery guy, who raps over the phone and shares his hashish, and Dallas, Paulina Porizkova’s narcissistic female rapist, add dark humor to even darker activities. When Mickey Rourke’s calmly unnerving, corrupt cop Kasarov shows up, Casey’s ultimate redemption crucible is complete, guaranteeing some hasty decisions and a tempestuous showdown. All in all, “Thursday” is a surprisingly obscure cult movie composed of plenty of droll violence, witty dialogue, and extremely creepy antagonists. Writer/director Skip Woods does many things right, which would pave the way for bigger projects, including his screenplays for “Swordfish” (2001), “Hitman” (2007), and “A Good Day to Die Hard” (2013).

– Mike Massie

 



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