American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
The problem with "Pawn Shop Chronicles" is not the fact that it is a clone of "Pulp Fiction." The problem is that it is a lousy clone.
There have been so many films that have derived some degree of inspiration from Quentin Tarantino's landmark work that they practically constitute their own genre at this point. The film from director Wayne Kramer appropriates all of its outward trappings—an eclectic cast, extended bursts of colorful dialogue, gruesome violence, a twisty structure, and moments of outright weirdness—but forgets to include any of the wit, intelligence or inspiration that helped bring those elements to life. As a result, what might have made for an endearingly twisted anthology instead comes across as a creative dead end that not only fails to live up to the heights of "Pulp Fiction" but might well wind up suffering in comparison to such similarly themed gumdrops as "Mad Dog Time" and "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead."
The film tells a trilogy of tales that all start at a grungy Deep South pawn shop in which proprietors Vincent D'Onofrio and Chi McBride fill the time between launching strangers on bizarre journeys by bantering at length about such subjects as tater tots and the racial derivation of Santa Claus.
In the first tale, 'The Shotgun,' three meth addicts (Paul Walker, Kevin Rankin and Lukas Haas) plot to rob a local dealer (Norman Reedus) of his stash, but the scheme hits an immediate hiccup when one of them pawns the shotgun that is a key part of the plan in order to buy the gas needed to drive to the crime. While trying to pull themselves together enough to find a new weapon and do the job, the guys ponder why they are white supremacists when they actually like African-Americans and Jew. Thomas Jane wanders in bearing a shotgun that he offers as a form of salvation before disappearing, hopefully to finally bring "Homeless Dad" to the big screen.