Bruce Willis plays a suicidal car salesman whose life is turned around when an obscure sci-fi author is invited to attend the city's arts festival.
The late, great Bill Hicks used to do a routine about a waffle shop waitress who asked him why he was reading a book. Hicks replied that the main reason was so that he wouldn't end up employed in a fucking waffle shop. Sadly, the comedian's tacit assertion - that reading is in itself a good thing to do - rather falls down when applied to film stars. Or, at least, those film stars who proceed to turn their reading matter into big screen white elephants. Only last month, John Travolta blessed us with the diabolical Battlefield Earth, based on a book by Scientology nabob L. Ron Hubbard, and now arrives this adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's equally unfilmable book, courtesy of primo Vonn-fan Bruce Willis.
Willis stars as suicidal car salesman Dwayne Hoover, whose franchise is the largest to be found in Midland City thanks in part to the efforts of women's underwear-sporting employee Nick Nolte. Meanwhile, curmudgeonly old science-fiction writer Kilgore Trout (Albert Finney) finds himself invited to Midland City's arts festival despite the fact that his stories only ever appear in "beaver" magazines. Trout's arrival will have serious consequences on the lives of Hoover, his pill-popping wife (Hershey) and the writer himself - although by that stage most viewers will undoubtedly be beyond caring.
As a novelist Vonnegut has never really cared about plot and, indeed, a good deal of his original book consists of childish drawings (knickers, the American flag, the human rectum). The appeal of his writing has far more to do with the tone of what he says - a tone which director Rudolph singularly fails to capture, more's the pity.
Will bewilder most people and disappoint all Vonnegut fans - or at least, those who don't happen to be film stars called Bruce.