Curt’s Crappy Movie & T.V. Reviews: Once Upon a Time in Venice (2017)

By Curtis Suthard – 7/4/2017


Once Upon a Time in Venice


So, finally, we come to a flick that HAS to be good, right? I mean, it’s gotta be. Check out that movie poster up there. It looks like John McClane is back with his trusty, furry partner, Buddy McClane in Die Hard 6: Yippee Ki-Yay, Mother-Woofer! McClane and Buddy head out to the west coast for some fun in the sun! But, unfortunately, Hans Gruber’s douchey nephew, Blake Gruber is out for revenge! John and Buddy must race against time to stop a series of bombs that Blake Gruber has planted in random dog parks throughout Los Angeles. Can McClane and Buddy save the day? Or is today the day that they Die Hard?!? Cue the explosions and fade to black, right? Nope! Instead we get a sub-par Bruce Willis action-(and I use that word loosely) comedy with a decent cast, but no real direction or payoff. Is it a movie about a private investigator working on a bunch of seemingly random cases that end up all tying together or a movie about a private investigator going through a series of goofy events to get his dog back from some gangbangers and drug lords? Both, sort of. It felt all disjointed and out of whack. Not hard to follow, really, just a bunch of little moments where I was wondering, sometimes out loud, “What the heck does this sub-plot have to do with anything overall?” Ugh!

Now, as bad as the plot is, the movie could almost be saved by a great cast, right? Almost. Bruce Willis, who needs no introduction, stars as Steve, an aging, possibly past his prime, private investigator living in Venice Beach and sort of just stumbling through both life and his career. Next up we got Tom Middleditch (currently starring in both Silicon Valley & annoying cellphone commercials) as John, Steve’s P.I. partner, who does the lion’s share of the investigating part of that job, while Steve does next to nothing and skateboards naked through the city. Middleditch’s John is a well-adjusted, uber-confident, suave and calm young man, who uses his supreme intellect and strong social abilities to be a smooth operator. Just kidding. Middleditch is a socially-awkward, mumbling, nervous dude who does indeed do all the legwork for Steve on almost all of the cases that comes their way. Then you’ve got the always great John Goodman, who is Dave, Steve’s surf shop owning pal, who is going through a bit of a breakdown due to the impending divorce from his wife. Goodman definitely adds a bit of fun and levity to nearly every other scenes that he is in. As always, Goodman is one of the few positives in this whole shebang. Next up, is Jason Momoa (the upcoming Aquaman in Justice League &…uh…Aquaman), who is a drug dealer/gang leader with a good side, named Spyder. Momoa is a presence in his scenes but doesn’t do much throughout the movie except maybe trying to do a crappy Cholo accent off and on. Adam Goldberg is a sleazy real estate mogul who pops up here and there and is sort of integral to some parts of the story. I guess? You also have Famke Janssen, who is Steve’s sister and single-mother to Steve’s teenage niece. Famke is hardly in the movie, I’m not sure why getting someone sort of well-known is worth it for such a throw away part. So that’s it for the main cast! Oh, wait! David Arquette! How did I almost forget David Arquette? I’ll tell you how: Because he runs by, high-fiving Steve (Willis) and shouts something out, never to be seen again. It’s that kind of “Wait! What does this have to do with the rest of the movie?”-kind of nonsense that makes this movie crap.

So, I’ve rambled about the cast and how misleading that cover image is for this movie, all the while hinting at just how bad the plot is. So, how bad is the plot? Horrible! Let me try to summarize it a bit: John (Middleditch) Steve’s partner, starts everything off by finding a young, attractive woman, whose brothers have hired Steve to find her. John finds her at a Sexaholics Anonymous group and convinces her to head over to Steve’s place to lay ow until the morning, when she will be reunited with her family the next day. Steve (Willis) then sleeps with this young, attractive woman. As she and Steve slumber, her brothers break in to Steve’s apartment, for some reason, and confront them. Steve flees, nude and only with his trusty skateboard and gun, with the two jacked-up, angry brothers in hot pursuit. Steve skateboards naked down late night Venice Beach streets and alleyways, through a club and even gets stopped by a friendly cop, who just lets him go, failing to notice that Steve is concealing his handgun in between his butt cheeks. Ah, comedy at its finest! Anyway, Steve needs to hide, so he tries to convince a buddy of his to let him into the backdoor of his pizza joint, before the brothers find him. Steve’s pal only relents once Steve has agreed to get his pal’s stolen classic car back from the gang dudes who stole it. Cut to: Steve and his pizza delivering pal sitting outside a rowdy house full of clichéd gangbangers. Steve sneaks in, posing as a pizza delivery guy and steals back his friend’s car from Spyder (Momoa), the gang leader, and damaging the car quite a bit in the process. Steve’s buddy gets his car back, but is distraught by the shape it is now in. Cut to: Steve visiting his pal Dave’s surf shop, where the two discuss life for a few moments and then decide to catch some early morning waves. Then, Steve heads over to his sister and niece’s house to….AHHHHHH!

It goes on this way forever. Eventually, Steve gets his dog, Buddy, whom he loves more than seemingly anything else, from his niece. Steve gets hired to find a spray-painting vandal, who is defacing the real estate mogul’s building that is up for sale, with depictions of said real estate guy and various characters in sexual acts. Buddy, Steve’s dog gets dognapped by Spyder’s gang. But then Spyder’s girlfriend runs off with the dog and a bunch of cocaine. So, Spyder makes a deal with Steve to get it all back in exchange for the dog as well as excusing the fact that Steve stole back a car from him and all the damage it caused. Steve and Dave confront some drug dealers and steal back some drugs. John hooks up with the young, attractive woman who started this whole mess. John also manages to track down this masked spray painter, only to uncover a deeper plot. Steve (Willis) is tied to a chair and forced into drag. And, finally you get a little gun play and some action. Then, that’s it! That is all she wrote! A whole lot of nothing! Not only that, but, you get a tease of some big things about to happen, only to have the movie end there, leaving you with “Action Movie Blue Balls” (trademarked Curt’s Crappy Company LLC, 2017).

Now, I’ll admit, I may have exaggerated a tiny bit about just how bad this movie is. It is bad, but there are a few redeeming qualities to it. Yes, there are some funny moments that pop up throughout. But, those moments are fleeting. Sure, you’ll chuckle a bit, but each of these goofs do nothing overall to move the story forward. This movie suffers, in my opinion, from too many twists and turns. Like I said, I found myself wondering “Why do we need this whole subplot going on?” constantly. Had the story been tightened up a bit, focusing more on only one or two of these other characters and their respective subplots, it would have been a much smoother film. Unfortunately, we get an hour and a half of limp-wristed action/comedy with a plot that made me feel like the dog from the movie Up, being distracted by a phantom SQUIRREL! everytime I started getting into the flow of things. There is never any real payoff nor any feeling of satisfaction by the end of everything. It is for those reasons that I give this movie a 1 out of 5 on the Official Nerd Nation Radio Pocket Protector Scale!

As always you can always send all greetings and salutations my way, as well as, suggestions or requests for more Crappy stuff for me to watch to!

Or, you can insult my mother at!

Until next time, KEEP IT CRAPPY!