Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film is an homage to 1960s Hollywood with the veteran once again showing his flair for alternating history and still make it fun!
In the 1950’s, Rick Dalton was the star of a hit Western series, Bounty Run. His best friend, Cliff Booth, is also his stunt double. That friendship has been lasting even to this day. However, it’s not 1969 and while he had his taste of success, Rick feels his career has hit a bit of a snag. Doing guest roles as villains in Westerns, Rick is advised to give spaghetti westerns a shot, but he refuses to do it. Meanwhile, Cliff has been working as Rick’s driver because he lost his stuntman job because it was rumored he killed his wife.
Meanwhile, Rick has new neighbors in the form of couple Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. While Sharon revels in enjoying seeing herself on screen, Rick has an opportunity to appear as the lead villain of a new pilot. At first having a breakdown, Rick proves himself and sees himself on the verge of perhaps a potential comeback. Meanwhile, Cliff goes to the old ranch where the old show was set and comes across a band of crazy hippies. Soon enough, a chance for Rick and Cliff will arrive and could be the comeback for these best friends.
Quentin Tarantino is such an interesting filmmaker and while he made only eight films prior to this, it is clear he is one of the ultimate movie fans. Having delved in World War II, Westerns, martial arts films, and crime films, Tarantino’s latest delves into the world of Hollywood and the behind the scenes stories of a former Western star and his best friend/stunt double and who better to play this duo than Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt?
DiCaprio and Pitt’s friendship is the heart of the film, even when we see their separate adventures. In the case of DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton, it’s about making a potential comeback, growing tired of playing villain roles until the opportunity comes for him to play the lead villain in a new Western pilot. As for Pitt’s Cliff Booth, his attempt to return to work as a stuntman only after a rumor involving his wife has hindered that chance of a comeback. Plus, it doesn’t help that an attempt to return to form while shooting The Green Hornet getting into it with Bruce Lee, played by Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist star Mike Moh, gets his shot at redemption virtually destroyed.
Another important part of the film is Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Sharon Tate. She plays the role as someone who thrives on her career. When she is not dancing and enjoying her time with her friends, she goes to the movie theaters to watch herself in both Valley of the Dolls and The Wrecking Crew. We get a nice intercut between her fight scene with Nancy Kwan in the latter and her training with Bruce Lee, who in real-life trained the real Tate for that very film. Her love of books is also seen in the film as she orders a book that she read in hopes her husband can enjoy reading as well.
A pivotal moment comes when Cliff goes to visit longtime friend George Spahn at the ranch where Rick’s hit show was shot. This is where we get introduced to the crazy cult known as the Manson Family. Daota Fanning makes an appearance as family member Squeaky after Cliff picks up and is hit on by Pussycat, played by Death Note the remake’s Margaret Qualley. Aside from Fanning, there are plenty of cameos from the likes of Kurt Russell and Zoe Bell as The Green Hornet’s stunt coordinator and his wife, former Spider-Man Nicholas Hammond and Sam Wanamaker and in his final role, Luke Perry as Wayne Maunder.
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood is a wonderful and wild look at behind the scenes of Hollywood only the way Tarantino can do it. A great cast will make you forget you are watching a near-three hour film.
WFG RATING: A
Columbia Pictures present a Heyday Films production in association with Bona Film Group. Director: Quentin Tarantino. Producers: David Heyman, Shannon McIntosh, and Quentin Tarantino. Writer: Quentin Tarantino. Cinematography: Robert Richardson. Editing: Fred Raskin.
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Dakota Fanning, Zoe Bell, Kurt Russell, Mike Moh, Nicholas Hammond, Julia Butters, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino, Luke Perry, Austin Butler, Sydney Sweeney.