Review – Once Upon a Time in Venice


Directed and written by debut filmmaker brothers Michael and Rob Cullen, who had previously penned the script for Cop Out the 2010 Kevin Smith cop crime action comedy. In the same vein, is the 2017 Once Upon a Time in Venice.

Steve Ford is an ageing private detective, with the only local real family being a sister in law (Famke Janssen) and teenage niece (Emily Robinson), and dog named buddy.  As he works through a number of low end cases (such as graffiti on apartment buildings), his dog is stolen, leading Steve through a number of interactions as he attempts to retrieve buddy.

This chain of encounters are largely with stereotyped, exaggerated characters,  that see Willis attempting to address various problems that they have all in the name of getting his dog back. Alongside him on this journey is his assistant – John – played by Thomas Middleditch who spends the film doing an odd impression of Zach Galifianakis (no idea why).


Supporting this mess is John Goodman, Jason Momoa, Jessica Gomes, Adam Goldberg and Ken Davitian. Only John Goodman really comes out of this clean.  The incredibly annoying voiceovers cut into the film intermittently offering attempts at insight and humour for the plot and characters (or what little that there is).

It is becoming clear that Bruce Willis is out of ideas and willing to try anything. He doesn’t seem invested in this at any point, and these films seem like a given in a career with increasingly limited high point.

It isn’t funny. Not at all. It tries everything to be it, but misses every time. It’s failure, when considering it has Bruce Willis playing an LA based private detective (which you would think has at least some potential), is genuinely remarkable.

Within 10 minutes, it has a naked Willis skateboarding down a street with a gun hidden between the cheeks of his behind.  Later he’s dressed as a woman, all the while music feeling lifted from Tarantino’s work plays. None of these things are wrong specifically but they all just feel as cynical attempts to make something work.


It makes both The Nice Guys and Inherent Vice (similar setups) both look like masterpieces.   It is a desperate, shameless, unfunny film that offers nothing. Absolutely nothing.


Ps. I already don’t know what the 3 is based only…

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