‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’ Is Quentin’s Golden Fairytale (Movie Review)

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood Movie ReviewLike George Washington once said I cannot tell a lie.  I haven’t told many people this, but Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is my most anticipated movie of 2019.  I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve been waiting an eternity for another Tarantino film to release.  Also, for the life of me I could not have envisioned such a large ensemble cast as this one packs in.  The big names in this one are absolutely ridiculous.  Rest assured we’ll get to all those big names down below in a moment, but I do want to pay homage to one in particular before we begin.  Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the last film to feature one of my most favorite actors from my home state of Ohio, Luke Perry.  He tragically died in March 2019.  Rest In Peace.  I’ll always have that memory of you and I chatting it up about Normal Life in LAX.  And with that thought I officially digress.  Let’s talk all about Quentin Tarantino’s long awaited ninth film!

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood Movie Review

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the ninth original film (remember the two Kill Bill movies count as one) that’s both written and directed by Quentin Tarantino.  It also marks his first film away from Weinstein with Sony Pictures distributing (having met several of Tarantino’s demands including final cut privilege).  I also made sure to mention it’s his ninth “original” film because depending upon what you read it may be his last depending upon whether or not his Rated-R Star Trek feature becomes a reality.  One way or another it’s clear he wants to stop with feature #10 (I believe).  However, let’s not put the cart in front of the horse here.  Instead let’s talk about all those big star names.  

Holy wow!  Our feature here stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie in the main billing roles, alongside Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Luke Perry, Al Pacino, Kurt Russell and many more Tarantino regulars you’d expect to see.  I could easily stop there, remind you once again this is a Tarantino film and call it a day.  You’d go see it automatically and be none the wiser, but I wouldn’t do that to you.  So let’s cut out all the fluff, start reporting on and dissecting this flick.

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood Movie Review

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is set in a completely alternate timeline (Bruce Lee and all) within Los Angeles/Hollywood during the late 1960s.  The plot involves an aging television actor (DiCaprio) and his stunt double (Pitt) as they try to re-invent themselves in the “aging” Hollywood industry (I’ll tackle that in a bit).  The large ensemble cast factors in with multiple storylines that pays tribute not only to Hollywood’s golden age, but also the life of Charles Manson and his followers too.  However, the latter is much less than what we’re led to believe in the film’s trailers.  I’m just throwing this out there for people thinking this is a Charles Manson movie only.  Oh no!  It’s so much more!

I really hate talking about key events that go down within a film in a review.  It kind of spoils things for the viewer in my opinion.  Instead I want to talk about some familiar concepts and tie them together with painting a vague narrative of what Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is all about.  So let’s start with this one.  Have you ever noticed how as male actors age they go from playing leading men (protagonists) to vile villains (antagonists)?  I think about that all the time.  I mean look how great Michael Keaton or Kevin Costner are as evil doers nowadays.  However, while growing up I fondly knew them as Batman and Robin Hood.  I’m sure it won’t be long before we see Brad Pitt as a villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Star Wars, but I digress.  I make mention of all this because this is the exact position we find DiCaprio’s character in here.

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood Movie Review

Arming you with this knowledge allows you to see at least what our aging television actor is going through.  He comes face-to-face with the fact that he’s no longer the bankable good lead (we do see a lot of his famous roles though) as he finds himself playing more and more villains.  I can kind of relate to that.  In comparison as you get to be my age you start thinking about these kind of things in the workforce.  You’re not a young whipper snapper anymore.  Employers can easily hire a younger workforce for much less money.  I get it and I am sure if you haven’t realized this universal truth yet, some day as sure as rain is wet you definitely will.

Now what’s cool about all of this is the fact that since this is a Tarantino film I gave nothing away.  Everything is fair game here including the death of a main character.  Also, it doesn’t help matters that this aging actor just so happens to live next to actress Sharon Tate (Robbie).  We all know what happens in real life to Sharon Tate, right?  Could that be how Charles Manson factors into everything here?  It very well could be, but remember this is an alternate timeline folks.  You may think you know the real story, but trust me you don’t.  In usual Tarantino fashion too you can rest assured that you’re going to get a great soundtrack, some deep character dives and reflections, wild entanglements and of course smart dialogue.  It’s too bad Margot couldn’t get more words in, but part of me feels she played the exact part Quentin brought her in for.  Sure you could have any pretty face in this role, but you got Harley Quinn.  Victory is yours!

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood Movie Review

I wrestled mentally for nearly an entire day of how I wanted to score this one.  Part of me wants to give it a perfect score, but the dichotomy within says this was not as good as Django so what are you thinking.  It’s that latter voice I struggle with.  No it’s not as good as Django, Pulp Fiction or even the Kill Bill films in my opinion.  However, is it supposed to be?  Did I go in thinking I was going to see one kind of movie and got another?  I’m afraid to say, but I think that is so.  This is good though because it forced me to look at Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in different ways.  For example, if I put myself in the shoes of DiCaprio’s character here, then by the film’s conclusion (which I do understand people’s disdain of) I do believe this is one of Hollywood’s finest modern day fairytales.  His plight is very relatable and the journey of it all is the ride here.  This is where I caution you though.  The journey is not of a Django tale.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a very slow burn and I can almost fault a long, bloated second act.  The thing is though I really cared about these characters.  Therefore, I stayed on for the entire ride.  That’s not to say I didn’t squirm in my seat a few times.  It’s a long movie after all.  That’s the thing though.  Despite the film’s long running time I honestly probably would have enjoyed hours more in this intriguing fairytale.  That’s when you know how truly vested I was in this feature.  Brad Pitt and the rest of the supporting cast were absolutely magnificent.  There wasn’t a single weak link there.  I even love how they utilized Bruce Dern here.  That Quentin has a wicked sense of humor and of course style (gorgeous recreation of the 60’s complete with the big names).  This is one to study over and over.  It’s almost like with this one I rediscovered the long lost art of filmmaking in Hollywood’s Golden Age (I’ll let you debate whether Quentin is disgruntled over a time like this no longer exists).  There were so many Ford Mustangs in this one too.  Thank you for that, QT!  I can ramble on and on about all the good things here, but ultimately what I am doing is only delaying the inevitable…the score!

This is a historical Why So Blu first!  I decided to agree to disagree with myself by literally splitting my indecisiveness in half.  Check out that 3/4 doggy symbol.  Ha!  That’s right a 4.75 film score.  Woohoo!  Don’t expect this to ever happen again!  I repeat this will NEVER happen again.  Enjoy it while it lasts.

P.S.  There are some during the credits fun to be had with here too.  Enjoy!

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood Movie Review


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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