Quentin Tarantino scripts work much better when directed by someone who can rein in the most self-indulgent excesses and say, "No, Quentin, you're not getting a part because you can't act for toffee." This one is a good case in point: though some elements grate horribly, such as Kilmer's hideous Elvis, there's enough soul and heart in the other performances to lift the film up beyond the obvious blizzard of pop-culture riffs. One suspects geek-turned-hero Clarence (Slater) is Tarantino himself, who lifts a suitcase of drugs from Oldman and runs away with golden-hearted and implausibly cute tart Arquette. It's nasty and brutal, but necessarily so, and is also sweet and tender: you genuinely care about the characters, which is an improvement on most QT-films. The undeniable highlight of the film (and perhaps the entire Tarantino canon) sees mob enforcer Christopher Walken verbally sparring with stubborn Dad Dennis Hopper. It's ten minutes hard to justify in a movie over two hours long, yet is such a joy to watch that, for once, the sheer pointlessness is forgivable.