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1994, Crime/Drama, 2h 33m
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One of the most influential films of the 1990s, Pulp Fiction is a delirious post-modern mix of neo-noir thrills, pitch-black humor, and pop-culture touchstones. Read critic reviews
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Pulp fiction videos, pulp fiction photos.
Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) are hitmen with a penchant for philosophical discussions. In this ultra-hip, multi-strand crime movie, their storyline is interwoven with those of their boss, gangster Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) ; his actress wife, Mia (Uma Thurman) ; struggling boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) ; master fixer Winston Wolfe (Harvey Keitel) and a nervous pair of armed robbers, "Pumpkin" (Tim Roth) and "Honey Bunny" (Amanda Plummer).
Rating: R (Graphic Violence|Drug Use|Strong Violence|Pervasive Language|Some Sexuality|Strong Language)
Genre: Crime, Drama
Original Language: English
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Producer: Lawrence Bender
Writer: Quentin Tarantino , Quentin Tarantino , Roger Avary
Release Date (Theaters): Oct 14, 1994 wide
Release Date (Streaming): Apr 21, 2016
Runtime: 2h 33m
Distributor: Miramax Films
Production Co: Miramax Films, A Band Apart, Jersey Films
Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo, Dolby A, Stereo, Dolby Digital, Dolby SR
Aspect Ratio: Scope (2.35:1)
Cast & Crew
Samuel L. Jackson
Maria de Medeiros
Richard N. Gladstein
Gary M. Zuckerbrod
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Best. Monologue. Ever. "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you." - Samuel Jackson quotes Ezekiel 25:17 This is Quentin Tarantino's masterpiece. The snappiest dialogue, the gonzo "chapter finales," the John Travolta/Uma Thurman dance to the twist, and that soundtrack! Bring out the Gimp!
14/06/2017 A hilariously violent and extremely well written script + a huge cast of top of the line actors combine to make this masterpiece. No more needs to be said, except: If you like your movies Pulp Fiction is a must watch!
Arguably Tarantino's best film. Pulp Fiction mixes everything into one package perfectly like a royale with cheese!
There's something to be said about how perfectly Pulp Fiction flows with such a non-linear storyline. Quentin Tarantino had already earned his spurs with Reservoir Dogs, and now decided to take everything to the nines with his sophomore film. The beauty of Pulp Fiction is how the storylines are so well intersected, and yet it begins and ends nearly exactly the same way. Not only is it one of the most important films of the 1990s, but it served as a platform for incredible dialogue, a veritable showcase depicting the bleak yet flashy glamour of 90s' LA, and a scenario of sorts of just what ordinary, and not-so-ordinary people can do when under duress.
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Tv/streaming, collections, great movies, chaz's journal, contributors, pulp fiction.
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Quentin Tarantino is the Jerry Lee Lewis of cinema, a pounding performer who doesn't care if he tears up the piano, as long as everybody is rocking. His new movie "Pulp Fiction" is a comedy about blood, guts, violence, strange sex, drugs, fixed fights, dead body disposal, leather freaks, and a wristwatch that makes a dark journey down through the generations.
Seeing this movie last May at the Cannes Film Festival, I knew it was either one of the year's best films, or one of the worst.
Tarantino is too gifted a filmmaker to make a boring movie, but he could possibly make a bad one: Like Edward D. Wood Jr., proclaimed the Worst Director of All Time, he's in love with every shot - intoxicated with the very act of making a movie. It's that very lack of caution and introspection that makes "Pulp Fiction" crackle like an ozone generator: Here's a director who's been let loose inside the toy store, and wants to play all night.
The screenplay, by Tarantino and Roger Avary , is so well-written in a scruffy, fanzine way that you want to rub noses in it - the noses of those zombie writers who take "screenwriting" classes that teach them the formulas for "hit films." Like " Citizen Kane ," "Pulp Fiction" is constructed in such a nonlinear way that you could see it a dozen times and not be able to remember what comes next. It doubles back on itself, telling several interlocking stories about characters who inhabit a world of crime and intrigue, triple-crosses and loud desperation. The title is perfect. Like those old pulp mags named "Thrilling Wonder Stories" and "Official Detective," the movie creates a world where there are no normal people and no ordinary days - where breathless prose clatters down fire escapes and leaps into the dumpster of doom.
The movie resurrects not only an aging genre but also a few careers.
John Travolta stars as Vincent Vega, a mid-level hit man who carries out assignments for a mob boss. We see him first with his partner Jules ( Samuel L. Jackson ); they're on their way to a violent showdown with some wayward Yuppie drug dealers, and are discussing such mysteries as why in Paris they have a French word for Quarter Pounders. They're as innocent in their way as Huck and Jim, floating down the Mississippi and speculating on how foreigners can possibly understand each other.
Travolta's career is a series of assignments he can't quite handle. Not only does he kill people inadvertently ("The car hit a bump!") but he doesn't know how to clean up after himself. Good thing he knows people like Mr. Wolf ( Harvey Keitel ), who specializes in messes, and has friends like the character played by Eric Stoltz , who owns a big medical encyclopedia, and can look up emergency situations.
Travolta and Uma Thurman have a sequence that's funny and bizarre. She's the wife of the mob boss ( Ving Rhames ), who orders Travolta to take her out for the night. He turns up stoned, and addresses an intercom with such grave, stately courtesy Buster Keaton would have been envious. They go to Jack Rabbit Slim's, a 1950s theme restaurant where Ed Sullivan is the emcee, Buddy Holly is the waiter, and they end up in a twist contest. That's before she overdoses and Stoltz, waving a syringe filled with adrenaline, screams at Travolta, "YOU brought her here, YOU stick in the needle! When I bring an O.D. to YOUR house, I'LL stick in the needle!" Bruce Willis and Maria de Medeiros play another couple: He's a boxer named Butch Coolidge who is supposed to throw a fight, but doesn't. She's his sweet, naive girlfriend, who doesn't understand why they have to get out of town "right away." But first he needs to make a dangerous trip back to his apartment to pick up a priceless family heirloom - a wristwatch. The history of this watch is described in a flashback, as Vietnam veteran Christopher Walken tells young Butch about how the watch was purchased by his great-grandfather, "Private Doughboy Orion Coolidge," and has come down through the generations - and through a lot more than generations, for that matter. Walken's monologue builds to the movie's biggest laugh.
The method of the movie is to involve its characters in sticky situations, and then let them escape into stickier ones, which is how the boxer and the mob boss end up together as the captives of weird leather freaks in the basement of a gun shop. Or how the characters who open the movie, a couple of stick-up artists played by Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer , get in way over their heads. Most of the action in the movie comes under the heading of crisis control.
If the situations are inventive and original, so is the dialogue. A lot of movies these days use flat, functional speech: The characters say only enough to advance the plot. But the people in "Pulp Fiction" are in love with words for their own sake. The dialogue by Tarantino and Avary is off the wall sometimes, but that's the fun. It also means that the characters don't all sound the same: Travolta is laconic, Jackson is exact, Plummer and Roth are dopey lovey-doveys, Keitel uses the shorthand of the busy professional, Thurman learned how to be a moll by studying soap operas.
It is part of the folklore that Tarantino used to work as a clerk in a video store, and the inspiration for "Pulp Fiction" is old movies, not real life. The movie is like an excursion through the lurid images that lie wound up and trapped inside all those boxes on the Blockbuster shelves. Tarantino once described the old pulp mags as cheap, disposable entertainment that you could take to work with you, and roll up and stick in your back pocket. Yeah, and not be able to wait until lunch, so you could start reading them again.
Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.
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Pulp Fiction (1994)
John Travolta as Vincent Vega
Bruce Willis as Butch Coolidge
Samuel L. Jackson as Jules
Uma Thurman as Mia
- Quentin Tarantino
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Pulp Fiction (1994)
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Summary Several inter-locking stories of crime and intrigue form a temporal mosaic set in the Los Angeles underworld.
Directed By : Quentin Tarantino
Written By : Roger Avary, Quentin Tarantino
Where to Watch
Samuel L. Jackson
Honey bunny, laura lovelace.
Marsellus wallace, paul calderon.
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Pulp Fiction review – Tarantino's mesmeric thriller still breathtaking 20 years on
T wenty years on, Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction has been rereleased in cinemas, and it looks as mesmeric and mad as ever: callous, insolent, breathtaking. The icy wit, the connoisseur soundtrack, the violence (of which the N-bombs are a part), the extended dialogue riffing, the trance-like unreality, the inspired karmic balance of the heroin scene and the adrenalin scene, the narrative switchbacks that allow John Travolta to finish the film both alive and dead, the spectacle of him being made to dance badly, but also sort of brilliantly … above all else, the sheer directionless excitement that only Tarantino can conjure. In 1994 it broke over my head like a thunderclap, and in 1990s Britain this touchstone of cool seemed to extend its dangerous influence everywhere: movies, fiction, journalism, media, fashion, restaurants, you name it. Everyone was trying to do irony and incorrectness, but without his brilliance it just looked smug. (The Americans get Tarantino; we get Guy Ritchie and Jeremy Clarkson.) Travolta and Samuel L Jackson play Vincent and Jules, a couple of bantering hitmen working for Marsellus (Ving Rhames), who is highly protective of his wife, Mia (Uma Thurman), and about to conclude a payday from a fixed boxing match; Marsellus's fighter, Butch (Bruce Willis), is haunted by a childhood encounter with his late father's best friend (a jaw-dropping cameo from Christopher Walken). Everyone's destiny plays out with that of a couple of freaky stick-up artists, played by Amanda Plummer and Tim Roth. In 1994, all the talk was of former video-store clerk Tarantino's indifference to traditional culture. That patronised his sophisticated cinephilia, and in fact, 20 years on, the writerly influences of Edward Bunker , Elmore Leonard and Jim Thompson seem very prominent. Don DeLillo began the 90s by warning that the US is the only country in the world with funny violence. Maybe Pulp Fiction was the kind of thing he had in mind. Unmissable.
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FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW: PULP FICTION
FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW: PULP FICTION; Quentin Tarantino's Wild Ride On Life's Dangerous Road
By Janet Maslin
- Sept. 23, 1994
EVER since Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" created a sensation at this year's Cannes Film Festival, where it won top honors (the Palme d'Or), it has been swathed in the wildest hyperbole. In fact, it has sparked an excitement bound to look suspect from afar. It must be hard to believe that Mr. Tarantino, a mostly self-taught, mostly untested talent who spent his formative creative years working in a video store, has come up with a work of such depth, wit and blazing originality that it places him in the front ranks of American film makers.
But tonight, as "Pulp Fiction" opens this year's New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center, the proof is on the screen.
What proof it is: a triumphant, cleverly disorienting journey through a demimonde that springs entirely from Mr. Tarantino's ripe imagination, a landscape of danger, shock, hilarity and vibrant local color. Nothing is predictable or familiar within this irresistibly bizarre world. You don't merely enter a theater to see "Pulp Fiction": you go down a rabbit hole.
This journey, which progresses surprisingly through time as well as through Los Angeles and environs, happens to be tremendous fun. But it's ultimately much more than a joy ride. Coming full circle at the end of a tight, deliberate two and three-quarter hours, "Pulp Fiction" leaves its viewers with a stunning vision of destiny, choice and spiritual possibility. The film needn't turn explicitly religious to reverberate when one character escapes death on a motorcycle labeled "Grace."
Remarkably, all this takes place in a milieu of obscenity-spouting petty hoodlums, the small-timers and big babies Mr. Tarantino brings to life with such exhilarating gusto. "Reservoir Dogs," the only other film he has written and directed (he also wrote "True Romance" and has a story credit on "Natural Born Killers"), offered only a glimmer of the high style with which he now conjures lowlifes. It also prefigures some of the chronology tricks that shape the much more ambitious "Pulp Fiction."
"Reservoir Dogs" attained well-deserved notoriety for its violence, especially in an expert but excruciating sequence involving the playful torture of a policeman. In the less gory "Pulp Fiction," where the disturbing scenes (from stories by the director and Roger Avary) are tempered by wild, impossible humor, it's especially clear that there is method to Mr. Tarantino's mad-dog moments. He uses extreme behavior to manipulate his audience in meaningful ways.
Surprisingly tender about characters who commit cold-blooded murder, "Pulp Fiction" uses the shock value of such contrasts to keep its audience constantly off-balance. Suspending his viewers' moral judgments makes it that much easier for Mr. Tarantino to sustain his film's startling tone. When he offsets violent events with unexpected laughter, the contrast of moods becomes liberating, calling attention to the real choices the characters make. Far from amoral or cavalier, these tactics force the viewer to abandon all preconceptions while under the film's spell.
Consider Christopher Walken's only scene in the film, in which he plays a military officer and delivers a lengthy monologue explaining how he happened to come by a gold watch, which he is now presenting to a little boy named Butch. The speech builds teasingly to an outrageous punch line, after which Mr. Tarantino knows just when to quit, moving on to the story of the adult Butch (Bruce Willis). Anyone surprised to be laughing at the gross-out gold-watch anecdote will be even more surprised to admire the noble side of the sadomasochistic episode in which Butch is soon embroiled.
Butch's story is the second of three vignettes presented here, though the order in which the tales are told on screen proves not to be the order in which they actually occur. In addition, the film is framed by opening and closing coffee-shop scenes that turn out to dovetail. Far from confusing his audience, Mr. Tarantino eventually makes the film's time scheme crystal clear, linking episodes with dialogue that may sound casual but sticks indelibly in memory. When a man named Pumpkin (Tim Roth) off-handedly addresses a waitress as "Garcon!" it's not easily forgotten.
Trapped together in absurd predicaments, splitting conversational hairs about trivia that suddenly comes into sharp focus, Mr. Tarantino's characters speak a distinctive language. The bare bones of the stories may be intentionally ordinary, as the title indicates, but Godot is in the details. So the first episode, "Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife," finds Vincent (John Travolta) and his partner, Jules (Samuel L. Jackson), debating emptily and pricelessly while preparing to embark on a professional mission. Their profession is killing. Jules, easily the more thoughtful of the two (it's no contest), likes to recite Ezekiel's prophecy against the Philistines to scare those who are about to die.
Like all of Mr. Tarantino's characters, these two are more appealing than they have any right to be. They're all also worried, in Vincent's case with good reason. Vincent has been recruited to take out Mia Wallace (a spirited Uma Thurman) while her husband (Ving Rhames), the impassive kingpin he and Jules work for, is out of town. Marsellus is rumored to have had a man thrown out of a fourth-story window for massaging Mia's feet.
The date makes for a deliriously strange evening, featuring a drug-related mishap (involving a fine group of miscreants, among them Eric Stoltz and Rosanna Arquette) and a dance contest at a fantasy restaurant called Jack Rabbit Slim's. This set, spectacularly photographed by Andrzej Sekula with a 1950's motif dreamed up by Mr. Tarantino, is so showy and hallucinatory that it leaves poor Vincent in a daze. When he finally tells Mia what he has heard about that foot massage, Mr. Tarantino proves he can write clever, sardonic women on a par with his colorful men. "When you little scamps get together, you're worse than a sewing circle," says the mischievous, glittery-eyed Mia.
Mr. Travolta's pivotal role, which he acts (and even dances) with immense, long-overlooked charm, is one measure of why Mr. Tarantino's screenplays are an actor's dream. Mr. Travolta, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Willis may all sound like known quantities, but none of them have ever had quite the opportunities this material offers. Mr. Jackson, never better, shows off a vibrant intelligence and an avenging stare that bores holes through the screen. He also engages in terrific comic teamwork with Mr. Travolta. Mr. Willis, whose episode sags only slightly when it dwells on Fabienne (Maria de Madeiros), his baby-doll girlfriend, displays a tough, agile energy when placed in the most mind-boggling situation.
The third story, "The Bonnie Situation," finds Harvey Keitel playing a suave sanitation expert named Wolf, whose specialty is unwanted gore. "Now: you got a corpse in a car minus a head in a garage," Wolf says. "Take me to it." Lest this sound too hard-boiled, consider details like the fact that Wolf is first glimpsed in black tie, at what looks like a polite party that happens to be under way at 8 A.M. And that Mr. Tarantino turns up wearing a bathrobe and offering everyone coffee. Small pleasantries don't count for much here, but at least they're mentioned, as when Wolf brusquely gives Vincent orders about cleaning up after the corpse. "A please would be nice," Vincent complains.
"Pulp Fiction" is the work of a film maker whose avid embrace of pop culture manifests itself in fresh, amazing ways. From surf-guitar music on the soundtrack to allusions to film noir, television, teen-age B movies and Jean-Luc Godard (note Ms. Thurman's wig), "Pulp Fiction" smacks of the second-hand. Yet these references are exuberantly playful, never pretentious. Despite its fascination with the familiar, this film itself is absolutely new.
Mr. Tarantino's audacity also extends to profane street-smart conversation often peppered with racial epithets, slurs turned toothless by the fact that the film itself is so completely and amicably integrated. When it comes to language, "Pulp Fiction" uses strong words with utter confidence, to the point where nothing is said in a nondescript way. High praise, in this film's argot, has a way of sounding watered down if it's even printable. But "Bravo!" will have to do.
"Pulp Fiction" is to be shown tonight at 7:30 and 8:30 as part of the New York Film Festival. (It opens commercially on Oct. 7 in New York and Los Angeles.) On the same Film Festival bill is the brief, archly amusing "Michelle's Third Novel," a film by Karryn De Cinque, in which the title character successfully overcomes her writer's block. Sticking a knife in a toaster, she learns, is as good a way to get jump-started as any.
"Pulp Fiction" is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It includes frequent obscenities, sexual frankness, occasional violence and moderate gore.
PULP FICTION Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino; director of photography, Andrzej Sekula; edited by Sally Menke; music by Karyn Rachtman; production designer, David Wasco; produced by Lawrence Bender; released by Miramax Films. At Alice Tully Hall at 7:30 P.M. and Avery Fisher Hall at 8:30 P.M., as part of the 32d New York Film Festival. Running time: 149 minutes. This film is rated R. WITH: John Travolta (Vincent Vega), Bruce Willis (Butch), Samuel L. Jackson (Jules), Harvey Keitel (Wolf), Uma Thurman (Mia), Christopher Walken (Koons), Maria de Medeiros (Fabienne), Amanda Plummer (Honey Bunny), Rosanna Arquette (Jody), Ving Rhames (Marsellus Wallace), Tim Roth (Pumpkin), Eric Stoltz (Lance) and Quentin Tarantino (Jimmie).
Pulp Fiction Review
01 Jan 1994
The least interesting thing about Pulp Fiction is what is in that bloody briefcase. Whether it is unlimited moolah, the soul of Crime Lord Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) or the gold lame suit worn by Val Kilmer's Elvis in True Romance (1993) really misses the point of Tarantino's molotov cocktail of a picture. Making a mockery of the difficult-second-film cliche, Tarantino weaves a patchwork of crime film history into something shiny and new. Peppered with great moments eaten up by actors working at the top of their game (Travolta, Willis and Thurman have never been better, and the film created the aura of greatness that currently surrounds Jackson) Pulp's witty writing, pop culture-surfing, gleeful amorality, cult tuneology and hyperkinetic energy has redefined the crime genre for the foreseeable future.
Drawing on the compendium format of Black Mask magazine and Mario Bava's gothic flick Black Sabbath (1963) as well as the twisty-turny crime literature of Frederick Brown and Charles Willeford, Tarantino wrote Pulp on the European press push for Reservoir Dogs (1991) — hence Vincent Vega (Travolta )'s detailed knowledge of Amsterdam minutiae. As such, the film also boasts a European feel; both in specific incident — the day-in-the-life-of-a-hit-man strand acknowledges the influence of Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samourai (1967) and the Vincent-Mia's twist has the same spirit as the impromptu dance in Jean-Luc Godard's crime flick Bande A Part (1964) — and in its rather intelligent sense of deconstructing Hollywood history.
Indeed, Pulp Fiction operates in the hinterland between reality and movie reality. Into a cadre of movie archetypes — the assassin, the mob boss, the gangster's moll, the boxer who throws a fight — Tarantino injects a reality check that is as funny as it is refreshing. Whereas most crime flicks would breeze over the rendezvous between Vincent and Mia, here we actually get to go on the date— polite chit-chat, awkward silences, bad dancing — before it spirals off into a drugged-up disaster. Just as Dogs is a heist film where you don't see the heist, Pulp is a boxer-takes-a-dive flick where you never see the bout, opting instead for conversations about muffins and Deliverance-style rape. Moreover, after Vincent and Jules take back Marsellus' briefcase, rather than cutting to a cop on their trail, we stay with them and revel in their banal banter as they dispose of a corpse (the genius of Keitel's Wolf in this effort is a moot point — how much intelligence does it take | to clean a car, then throw a rug over the back seat?)
What startled about Pulp on release was its audacious story dynamics. It was originally planned as a straight anthology flick — Tarantino's decision to cross-reference the yarns mines even more dramatic gold (i.e. the hero can get killed halfway through). While none of the stories amount to much on their own — if you told Pulp in a linearity, it would start with Vincent and Jules arriving at Brett's apartment and end with Butch and Fabienne Dooming off on Zed's chopper—in crisscrossing the exposition, Tarantino forges hooks of expectation and curiosity that pay off one by one in satisfying ways.
Through its tricksy plot structure, very few films capture such a rich sense of an interconnected crime community. Of course, this extends even beyond the parameters of the film itself to Tarantino's other movies — that Vincent Vega has a brother better known as Mr. Blonde hints at a whole nexus of underworld activity — and to the whole crime genre itself. As Butch kills Maynard, Marsellus Wallace warns Zed he's going to get some henchman, "To go to work with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch." In Charley Varrick (1973), a character named Maynard warns a bank manager about the very same method of torture.
While all the plaudits may have gone to Tarantino's killer dialogue — it's appeared everywhere from parody Plump Fiction to the Fun Lovin' Criminals' hit Scooby Snacks — Pulp is an equally stimulating visual experience. From the eyeful of Jackrabbit Slims to the magical square Mia draws to underline Vincent's geekiness to Andrzej Sekula's glossy, wide angled image-crafting, the look of Pulp is equally as imaginative without ever calling attention to itself.
More protean than Dogs, more fun than Jackie Brown, Pulp is so perfectly wrought it makes you forgive the crimes against cinema that Tarantino has perpetrated with his acting. Three great movies for the pries of one, the anaemic rip-offs that have followed have only served to sharpen its greatness. Besides, how could you not love a movie where a character called Antwan Rockamora is constantly referred to as Tony Rocky Horror?
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Pulp fiction, common sense media reviewers.
Tarantino's masterpiece. Entertaining, yet violent.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film's extreme violence and drug use witho
No positive role models here.
Rape, drug overdose, car accidents, shootings, kil
Includes characters discussing oral sex, plus depi
Holds the record for most use of the "F"
References to Burger King. Mock brand fast food pr
Heroin use plays a major role in the film. A chara
Parents need to know that this film glorifies violence, drug use, and sexual themes. Gunplay, robbery, swearing, drug use, drug dealing, lying, cheating, violence, male rape, sadomasochism, and driving under the influence. A character is shot in the face and it's played for jokes. In one extremely graphic scene …
The film's extreme violence and drug use without legal consequences supercedes any of its socially redeemable qualities.
Positive Role Models
Violence & scariness.
Rape, drug overdose, car accidents, shootings, killings, vast amounts of blood, and so much more.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Includes characters discussing oral sex, plus depictions of sadomasochism.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.
Holds the record for most use of the "F" words in any film (271 times). Plenty of racial slurs, too.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.
Products & Purchases
References to Burger King. Mock brand fast food products.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Heroin use plays a major role in the film. A character smokes pot using a bong.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this film glorifies violence, drug use, and sexual themes. Gunplay, robbery, swearing, drug use, drug dealing, lying, cheating, violence, male rape, sadomasochism, and driving under the influence. A character is shot in the face and it's played for jokes. In one extremely graphic scene (one that supposedly incited seizures in some epileptic audience members), a character plunges a syringe into a woman's chest to save her from experiencing a heroin overdose. The director seems to mock product placement by featuring original brands created for the film. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .
Where to Watch
Videos and photos.
- Parents say (84)
- Kids say (206)
Based on 84 parent reviews
Amazing for Teens 13 and Up!
Listen: this rating is inaccurate, what's the story.
PULP FICTION combines four storylines, revealing them in a non-linear fashion, using an immense all-star cast of characters connected in seemingly random ways. They include professional hit men Jules ( Samuel L. Jackson ) and Vince ( John Travolta ), their powerful drug-dealing boss Marsellus Wallace ( Ving Rhames ), Wallace's wife, Mia ( Uma Thurman ), aging boxer Butch ( Bruce Willis ), and a host of others. Each character encounters each other throughout the film, resulting in a chain of events that changes the course of their lives.
Is It Any Good?
This movie boasts groundbreaking direction, cinematography, screenwriting, soundtrack, and extraordinary performances (particularly by Thurman, Travolta, and Jackson). Pulp Fiction had an immeasurable impact on both mainstream and independent filmmaking in the '90s. Despite the film's innovation and success, however, the extreme violence and sexual content featured in the film makes it wholly inappropriate for kids and all but the most mature teens.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the film's popularity, despite its majorly mature content. What role did sex, violence, drug use, and language play in this film's success? Did you find anything here offensive -- or does the humorous tone somehow soften the content?
- In theaters : October 14, 1994
- On DVD or streaming : May 19, 1998
- Cast : Bruce Willis , John Travolta , Samuel L. Jackson , Uma Thurman
- Director : Quentin Tarantino
- Inclusion Information : Black actors, Female actors
- Studio : Buena Vista
- Genre : Drama
- Run time : 154 minutes
- MPAA rating : R
- MPAA explanation : strong graphic violence and drug use, pervasive strong language and some sexuality.
- Last updated : October 7, 2023
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Pulp Fiction (United States, 1994)
Pulp (pulp) n. 1. A soft, moist, shapeless mass of matter. 2. A book containing lurid subject matter, and being characteristically printed on rough, unfinished paper.
"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and goodwill shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and a finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee." - Jules' version of Ezekiel 25:17
The danger of having as successful and explosive a debut as Reservoir Dogs is that expectations are invariably high - sometimes unrealistically so - for the follow up. Quentin Tarantino, however, has managed the near-impossible: improve upon the extraordinary. Pulp Fiction shows what can happen when a talented and accomplished filmmaker reaches his apex.
This film is one wild ride. An anthology of three interconnected stories that take place in a modern-day Los Angeles tinted by echoes of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, the movie impresses in every possible way. Writer/director Tarantino has merged film noir with the gangster tale and pulled them both into the '90s. As definitive as Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather saga was for the '70s, so is Pulp Fiction for today's generation.
Pulp Fiction 's three tales are structured to intersect and overlap at key points, even though they are not presented in chronological order. Tarantino arranges his initial scene to dovetail with his final one in a remarkable example of closure. Those confused by the structure will see everything clearly once the final line is spoken.
"Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife" is the first story. It opens with Vincent (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) out on a hit for their boss, Marsellus (Ving Rhames). Along the way, Vincent confesses that he's uneasy about an upcoming job - taking out Marsellus' young wife Mia (Uma Thurman) while the main man is out of town. The source of the nervousness lies in a story circulating that Marsellus had a man thrown out a fourth story window for giving Mia a foot massage. One wrong step and Vincent could find himself in deep trouble.
"The Gold Watch" is about a boxer, Butch (Bruce Willis), who is handsomely paid by Marsellus to throw a fight. Only at the last moment does it become more profitable to renege on the deal. So, along with his French girlfriend, Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros), Butch goes on the run, hoping to live long enough to spend some of the fortune he has suddenly gained.
"The Bonnie Situation" ties together a few loose threads. It also introduces Harvey Keitel as a suave problem-solver named Wolf and Quentin Tarantino as Jim, a man worried that his wife will come home from work to find a dead body in a blood-spattered car in his garage. Sometimes, it appears, helping out Marsellus is not without its complications.
As was the case in Reservoir Dogs , Tarantino's crisp dialogue sparkles. The vulgarity-laced monologues and conversations ripple with humor and are ripe with points to ponder. Foot massages, hamburgers, comfortable silence, a gold watch, pot bellies, divine intervention, and filthy animals - all these and more receive the writer's attention as he presents meaningless issues in an intensely-fascinating and almost lyrical fashion. Who else (except perhaps David Mamet) can make profanity sound so poetic?
For anyone who thought they knew the breadth of Bruce Willis' and John Travolta's acting ability, a surprise awaits. Whether it's an effect of the script, the direction, or something else, these two turn in surprisingly strong performances. And they're not the only ones. Uma Thurman, Rosanna Arquette, Ving Rhames, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Eric Stoltz (who has a Tarantino-related triple play with Pulp Fiction , Killing Zoe , and Sleep With Me ), and the director himself are all excellent. And then there's Samuel L. Jackson, who seems to get better with every outing.
All the details are executed to perfection. Ironies abound in the smallest situations. One death is caused by, of all things, a poptart. And it takes a director of rare talent to find the comedy in so many macabre situations. This goes beyond gallows humor. Mixing the original with the derivative, Tarantino pushes Pulp Fiction in directions that are equally anticipated and unexpected.
Relentless in its pace, Pulp Fiction is as exhausting as it is exhilarating. In between all the shootings, Mexican standoffs, and other violent confrontations exist opportunities to explore various facets of the human experience, including rebirth and redemption. With this film, every layer that you peel away leads to something deeper and richer. Tarantino makes pictures for movie-lovers, and Pulp Fiction is a near-masterpiece.
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clock This article was published more than 9 years ago
‘Pulp Fiction’ is 20 years old: Read the Washington Post reviews from 1994
Twenty years ago this week, moviegoers got their first glimpse of Quentin Tarantino’s startling, genre-busting “Pulp Fiction.” It may not have been everyone’s cup of tea at the time — and some critics hated it — but if you’re a fan, you’ve been amazed at how well it holds up over repeated viewings.
What also holds up well? The original Washington Post reviews of “Pulp Fiction.”
The film made a stupendous splash at the Cannes Film Festival that summer — and the subsequent waves of hype and backlash as it reached U.S. shores had many cinema nerds struggling to decide what exactly to think about “Pulp Fiction” once they saw it. But both Rita Kempley and Desson Thomson (then writing as Desson Howe) cut through the noise with clear-eyed reviews that still accurately evoke a movie whose twists and jokes and shocks now are so familiar. I checked in with both writers this week; their retrospective thoughts appear after their reviews from October 14, 1994.
‘PULP FICTION’: A SLAY RIDE By Rita Kempley Washington Post Staff Writer
The oafish knee-breakers, the fight-throwing palookas and the nail-filing molls: All the bit players come out of the shadows in “Pulp Fiction,” Quentin Tarantino’s time-twisting homage to the Rosencrantzes and Guildensterns of film noir. A comedy blacker than Scarface’s heart, Tarantino’s ingenious and slyly assured second film wisely forgoes the graphic excesses of his 1992 debut, “Reservoir Dogs.” Tarantino, who also wrote “True Romance” and “Natural Born Killers,” opens this film with another pair on the lam: Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) and Pumpkin (Tim Roth), whose snuggly pet names belie their thieving ways. Over breakfast at a cozy coffee shop, they discuss plans to go from robbing liquor stores to restaurants.
It’s the perfect prelude to the body of “Pulp Fiction,” an anthology of three luridly overblown, chronologically deviant stories, their narratives linked via characters who slide from one segment to the other as easily as a moll onto her sugar daddy’s knee. Tarantino’s characters may be goons, but they are also inveterate fat-chewers on par with the boys at Barry Levinson’s “Diner.” As the boss’s wife, Mia (Uma Thurman), says to henchman Vincent (John Travolta), “When you little scamps get together, you’re worse than a sewing circle.”
In the first story, Vincent baby-sits Mia for his boss, although it’s rumored that her last chaperon fell out of a skyscraper after giving her a foot massage. Before the date, Vincent shares his concerns with his Jheri-curled colleague, Jules (Samuel L. Jackson), who, after much back and forth, remains skeptical of the story.
Vincent, a paunchy heroin user, shoots up before his date with the lustrous Mia, who has snorted a little something herself before they leave for Jack Rabbit Slim’s, a ’50s theme restaurant where dead celebrity look-alikes serve Douglas Sirk sirloin. Buddy Holly (Steve Buscemi) reluctantly takes Mia and Vincent’s order for burgers — bloody — and shakes. They top off the evening by entering Slim’s twist contest in a dreamy, druggy rendition of the dance.
Later at Mia’s place, Vincent has a sudden desire to massage her feet, and wonders whether he can betray his boss, Marsellus (Ving Rhames). For all the splatter, the movie’s message has to do with loftier themes, honor and redemption among them.
Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis), a prizefighter paid to take a fall, decides to double-cross Marsellus in another story, “The Good Watch.” Just when Butch seems about to escape Marsellus, he is faced with the moral choice of saving him from mutual enemies or making off with the dough. It’s no coincidence that Butch arms himself with an old samurai sword.
Willis, minus his smirk, brings more compassion than sass to this role, but the movie starts to lose its momentum through the section as Tarantino continues to force the action into odder, grosser directions, including bondage and homosexual rape. It’s a relief to get back to Jules and Vincent, still driving along in their parody of a salt-and-pepper buddy movie.
Upon surviving an ambush at point-blank range, Jules calls it an act of God and resolves to give up his life of crime. It’s not easy, since he is carrying a mysterious briefcase that when opened emits a golden glow. Could it be that Jules has found the Grail?
Jackson looks the part of an Old Testament prophet, eyes burning like charcoal briquettes, when Jules quotes a long biblical passage before blasting his victim. Travolta, who shares the bulk of the screen time with Jackson, manages to make Vincent sympathetic despite his occupation. There are also a pair of priceless cameos by Harvey Keitel as the mob’s Mr. Fixit and Christopher Walken as a Vietnam veteran. If Travolta gets to dance, then Walken gets to tweak “The Deer Hunter.”
True to his nature, Tarantino stuffs “Pulp Fiction” with movie references, but its true strength is in turning these on end. The experience overall is like laughing down a gun barrel, a little bit tiring, a lot sick and maybe far too perverse for less jaded moviegoers. When bits of brain cling to Jules’s oily ringlets, not everybody is going to laugh, perhaps because they have been too close to someone who has been the victim of a shotgun blast. Maybe we’re laughing because we’re too shellshocked by what we have become to cry.
Kempley, who left the Post in 2004 after 25 years, is now an author and independent writer. Looking back, she warns us not to credit Tarantino with introducing “snarky, po-mo cinema” — the Cohen brothers and David Lynch beat him by a decade. But she sees “Pulp Fiction” as part of a mini-trend of the early ’90s along with Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven,” starkly violent movies that asked us “to reconsider the historical narratives we had been presented” in classic Hollywood genres celebrating “cowboys, gangsters, noir detectives, boxers. The sanitation of violence in those genres is demolished when brain bits land in Sam Jackson’s Jheri curls. . . We are asked to consider our part as viewers.”
TRUTH IS: ‘PULP FICTION’ RULES By Desson Howe
“PULP FICTION” is everything it’s said to be: brilliant and brutal, funny and exhilarating, jaw-droppingly cruel and disarmingly sweet. Quentin Tarantino, the postmodern Boy Wonder of American crass culture, for whom the only thing to fear is boredom itself, has produced a work of mesmerizing entertainment. To watch this movie (whose 2 1/2 hours speed by unnoticed) is to experience a near-assault of creativity.
The multi-plot story, whose almost-Escherian design becomes apparent as the movie progresses, is too involved to outline. Essentially, the film’s a narrative circle of interconnecting, time-jumping episodes, in which various pulp-fictional gangsters, molls and palookas deal with bizarre occurrences in their lives. In the end, everything comes together in a multi-ironic Tarantino reverie. The never-a-dull-moment drama is propelled by its crazy-casting dream team: Samuel L. Jackson is unforgettable as a philosophical killer who quotes Ezekial before his ritual executions. Uma Thurman, serenely unrecognizable in a black wig, is marvelous as a zoned-out gangster’s girlfriend. Bruce Willis is a pug-faced charm as an aging boxer who refuses to throw a fight. And who knew John Travolta would produce the sweetest performance of his career as a good-natured goon?
As with his “Reservoir Dogs,” Tarantino delves into the working-stiff world of crime. For the characters in “Pulp Fiction,” killing, stealing and breaking fingers are merely occupational banalities. Partners Amanda Plummer and Tim Roth discuss whether to keep robbing liquor stores or stick up all the customers in the sandwich shop they’re eating in. (They carry on like a married couple making a mutual career decision.)
Hoodlums Travolta and Jackson — like modern-day Beckett characters — discuss foot massages, cunnilingus and cheeseburgers on their way to a routine killing job. The recently traveled Travolta informs Jackson that at the McDonald’s in Paris, the Quarter Pounder is known as “Le Royale.” However “a Big Mac’s a Big Mac, but they call it Le Big Mac.”
“Come on,” says Jackson, as they approach the room of their victims-to-be. “Let’s get into character.”
With chatty asides like these, Tarantino makes unwilling — and disconcertingly easy — conspirators of the audience, no matter how outlandish the action. In one of the movie’s most harrowing sequences, Thurman has a drug overdose and Travolta — stuck with babysitting her for his boss — has to perform improvisatory surgery. It’s horrifying and oddly funny. As Travolta and drug-dealer Eric Stoltz attempt to revive her with the help of a medical book, the movie enters some out-there combination of Sam Peckinpah-style gruesomeness and “I Love Lucy.”
Tarantino, an L.A. video store clerk-turned-auteur, was raised on filmic bloodletting. Screen violence, assimilated secondhand from such films as “Straw Dogs,” “The Godfather” and “Scarface,” is his most immediate reference point. But he transcends himself by putting brutality in quotation marks, making it traipse hand in hand with absurdity. It may be that, with “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction,” Tarantino has over-mined his muse. Should he make another work remotely like either film, he’ll run the risk of rendering his work commonplace. But for now, his material is witty, ironic and inspired — although the irredeemably squeamish should know to stay away. In “Pulp,” you’ll see what it is to clean up a car spattered with brain gore. But you’ll also see an amusing Harvey Keitel, as a freelance clean-up man (dressed as if for a prom) supervising the icky proceedings. In the film’s most exhilarating showpiece, Willis undergoes an extended, hair-raising suspense ride that includes sword violence, rape, gunfire and torture. After the most brutalizing experience of his life, Willis returns to his girlfriend, who promptly starts crying. Shaken beyond compare, Willis is the one who has to do the consoling.
“How was your breakfast?” he inquires, as pleasantly as he can.
Desson Thomson, who left the Post in 2008 after 25 years, is now a speechwriter at the State Department. “I opened this up expecting to cringe,” he told me — his reaction when re-reading so many other old reviews. “But that’s one rare moment when I felt like I got it right.” Also: “I can’t believe I got ‘cunnilingus’ into a review!”
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What Did Critics Write About Pulp Fiction When It Debuted 20 Years Ago?
Twenty years ago, Quentin Tarantino sucker-punched moviegoers with Pulp Fiction , a sprawling, pop-culture-filled romp that secured him as one of the most enticing, up-and-coming filmmakers of the ‘90s. Critics were transfixed — for better or for worse — by the film and its director’s obsession with obscenity, violence, and unconventional narrative structure. Some swooned at Fiction and Tarantino ( The New Yorker ’s Anthony Lane, though not entirely taken with the film as a whole, went as far as saying Tarantino had invented his very own kind of plot ). Others, like Howie Movshovitz and Stanley Kauffmann, seemed to bristle at what they perceived to be Tarantino’s disconnectedness from reality, which some argued was rooted in the writer-director’s version of film school: working at a video-rental store. We’ve taken a trip to the archives to round up a few takes on Tarantino’s classic.
“[A] triumphant, cleverly disorienting journey through a demimonde that springs entirely from Mr. Tarantino’s ripe imagination, a landscape of danger, shock, hilarity and vibrant local color. Nothing is predictable or familiar within this irresistibly bizarre world. You don’t merely enter a theater to see Pulp Fiction : you go down a rabbit hole.” —Janet Maslin, the New York Times
“A spectacularly entertaining piece of pop culture, Pulp Fiction is the American Graffiti of violent crime pictures. Following up on his reputation-making debut, Reservoir Dogs , Quentin Tarantino makes some of the same moves here but on a much larger canvas, ingeniously constructing a series of episodes so that they ultimately knit together, and embedding the always surprising action in a context set by delicious dialogue and several superb performances.” —Todd McCarthy, Variety
“The film is empty. Tarantino doesn’t seem to know anything at all about real life, and maybe he has no interest in it either. He certainly never acknowledges that a real world may exist, and his movie, for all its intricate and elegant dance, evokes nothing beyond itself. Tarantino lives exclusively in a boy’s fantasy world, where women and any semblance of reality are only intruders. So Pulp Fiction has only two-dimensional motion. You see the picture, you leave and it’s over. There’s not even an aftertaste.” —Howie Movshovitz, Denver Post (not archived online)
“The proudly disreputable Pulp Fiction (cost: a measly $8 million) is the new King Kong of crime movies. It’s an anthology that blends three stories and 12 principal characters into a mesmerizing mosaic of the Los Angeles scuzz world. The acting is dynamite: John Travolta and Bruce Willis can consider their careers revived. Buoyed by Tarantino’s strafing wit, the action sizzles, and so does the sex. Pulp Fiction is ferocious fun without a trace of caution, complacency or political correctness to inhibit its 154 deliciously lurid minutes.” —Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“Tarantino is an artist mad for affect, terrified that his audience may be bored or moved (the same thing, as far as he’s concerned). But his actors are ahead of the game; people like Samuel L. Jackson and Maria de Medeiros, and even a nicely troubled Bruce Willis, fight to flesh the movie out with warm-blooded gestures of feeling. That is what makes Pulp Fiction such an intriguing spectacle: not the acrylic brightness of its design, or even the funny filth of its patter, but the tension between the manic skills of its inventor and the refusal of his subjects to be treated like cartoons.” —Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
“[W]hat’s most bothersome about Pulp Fiction is its success. This is not to be mean-spirited about Tarantino himself; may he harvest all the available millions. But the way that this picture has been so widely ravened up and drooled over verges on the disgusting. Pulp Fiction nourishes, abets, cultural slumming.” —Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic
“It is part of the folklore that Tarantino used to work as a clerk in a video store, and the inspiration for Pulp Fiction is old movies, not real life. The movie is like an excursion through the lurid images that lie wound up and trapped inside all those boxes on the Blockbuster shelves.” —Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
“Critics see so many action pictures that they sometimes forget that the mass audience has a lower threshold for blood and guts. You are warned. What about sex? There’s very little of it in Pulp Fiction ; Tarantino’s characters here are more comfortable holding a gun than a human being.” —Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune (not archived online)
“Watching Pulp Fiction , you don’t just get engrossed in what’s happening on screen. You get intoxicated by it — high on the rediscovery of how pleasurable a movie can be.” —Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
“The best thing about Pulp Fiction , as with Tarantino’s debut film, Reservoir Dogs , are its words. They flow in hip torrents that are both idiosyncratic and familiar from lowlife characters who love to talk and can erupt in entertaining riffs on any subject on no notice at all.” —Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“Characters drop references to movies, old sitcoms and fast food until the idea becomes implicit that from their angle these are the basic elements of life. Pulp Fiction celebrates pop culture at the same time it implies that a garbage culture is producing garbage people.” —Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle (not archived online)
“True to his nature, Tarantino stuffs Pulp Fiction with movie references, but its true strength is in turning these on end. The experience overall is like laughing down a gun barrel, a little bit tiring…and maybe far too perverse for less jaded moviegoers. When bits of brain cling to Jules’s oily ringlets, not everybody is going to laugh, perhaps because they have been too close to someone who has been the victim of a shotgun blast. Maybe we’re laughing because we’re too shellshocked by what we have become to cry.” —Rita Kempley, Washington Post
“ Pulp Fiction , in short, is one hell of a ride. It’s hot, it’s cool and — for a movie that sometimes comes at you like a blindsiding fist — it’s unfailingly playful. It was born in the dust motes dancing on the beams of a thousand movie projectors; it hangs out at the intersection of collective memory and contemporary chaos theory; and the thing that makes it so modern is its easy command of the fact that life is often funny and horrible at the same time.” —Jay Carr, Boston Globe (not archived online)
“Despite the drugs, the blood, the language, the grit, Pulp Fiction is fundamentally light-hearted. It’s fluff.” —Picks and Pans Review, People
“Grisly but packed with more laugh lines than any other recent movie, Fiction simply annihilates its current ‘underworld’ competition. Note to the folks who made The Specialist : This is how it’s done in the major leagues.” —Mike Clark, USA Today (not archived online)
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