American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Here's a movie without an ounce of human kindness, a sour and mean-spirited enterprise so desperate to please, it tries to be a yukky comedy and a hard-boiled action picture at the same time. It's about a gang that robs a casino while masquerading as Elvis impersonators. I was nostalgic for the recent "Sugar and Spice," in which cheerleaders rob a bank while masquerading as five pregnant Betty dolls (plus one Richard Nixon).
The movie has a heavy-duty cast, with top billing shared by Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner. Russell once played Elvis, very well, on TV, and hits some of the right verbal notes here. Costner, the leader of the gang, chain-smokes and looks mean. His fellow criminals include Christian Slater, David Arquette and Bokeem Woodbine, who is the black guy and therefore the first to die, adhering to an ancient cliche this movie lacks the wit to rewrite.
The casino robbery involves a gory bloodbath, all gratuitous, all intercut with an Elvis revue on one of the show stages. Not intercut a little, but a lot, complete with dancing girls, until we see so much of the revue we prefer it to the shooting. (Looks like dozens of patrons are killed, but the movie of course forgets this carnage the minute it's over.) The gang makes off with the loot, there is the inevitable squabble over how to divvy it up, and then the movie's most intriguing and inexplicable relationship develops.
This is between Kurt Russell and Courteney Cox, who plays the mom of a bright young kid (David Kaye), and is stranded in the Last Chance Motel, one of those movie sets from a Road Runner cartoon.