Once Upon A Time In … Hollywood – The Dog Saves The Movie

Rating (3.5 out of 5)

Summary: This movie is long. Yes, that is my number one memory of the movie. Had the first half of this film not been so self-indulgent and long, this would be a fantastic movie. The movie ends in a flurry of madness, exciting the audience, and leaves you smiling. The first half of the film is filled with great individual scenes. The artistic work by Mr. Tarantino and crew by itself would make most directors envious to have created.

I am sure many will find ways to praise and credit these sections and rank this film highly. However, I recently had the please to view “The Apartment” and a series of Alfred Hitchcock films that I enjoyed, their stories and pacing were more concise, increasing the enjoyability of the film. With such talent and a great ending, it is hard to excuse 2 hours and 44 minutes.

Compared to other movie distributed to me, “Once Upon A Time In … Hollywood” (OUATIH) is a true standout. However, compared to the greats movies before, this movie is mediocre

Plot: An alternate history, following Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), an actor well past his prime, and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they both deal with languishing careers, in 1969 Hollywood.

Details: Both actors deliver superb performances. I particularly enjoyed Brad Pitt’s character as the tough but understanding stunt man. Leonardo DiCaprio shined as well. Somehow Quentin Tarantino elevates the performances of Leonardo more than I have seen from any other director.

Yes, the title mentions the dog, and the dog was fabulous. Some of the best scenes in the move involve the relationship between the dog and Cliff. The dogs are only in a few scenes, but the dynamic between him and Cliff is heartwarming.

I caught myself rolling my eyes and checking my watch during the first part of the movie. Shot after shot would scroll by and I would ask myself, “Is this shot necessary?” It wasn’t pertinent to the overall story and stretched the whole length of the film. I look back at whole scenes and sections of the film and question the intent of the director.

A great example, is the scene where Cliff fights Bruce Lee (Mike Moh). This scene doesn’t develop or reveal some unknown truth about Cliff. We already understood how tough Cliff was and Bruce Lee didn’t relate to any other part of the story, so this scene was unnecessary.

My daughter wasn’t aware of who Sharon Tate, but since the movie didn’t tell her tragic death in real life, having Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) consume large swaths of film didn’t make sense. Not knowing the tragedy and players behind Sharon Tate, wouldn’t have changed my daughters enjoyment of the last part of the film. Then for those of us familiar with the Sharon Tate murders, we would have understood the relationship.

The movie picks up when Cliff picks up Pussycat (Margaret Qualley) and visits Spahn ranch. Cliff’s interaction with the family on the ranch was very entertaining, and setups the ending well. From this point in the film, you are treated to a great story. I can see myself purchasing this movie and fast-forwarding to the back half of the film.