Stay 3000 miles away from cheesy Elvis-infested ''Graceland''

BY ANDY TAYLOR-FABE
Daily Arts Writer
Published March 5, 2001

The true mark of failure for a film is when the trailer is much better than the actual movie. Such is the case for "3000 Miles to Graceland," which takes a potentially entertaining heist/chase story and drives it straight into the ground.

Paul Wong
I can"t believe Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner and the back-to-work Christian Slater <br><br>Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner play ex-cons who rob the Riviera Casino in Las Vegas. The twist: They have timed the job to coincide with the international Elvis impersonator convention, so they do the job in full costume, including capes, rhinestones, and prosthetic sideburns (except for Costner, who has the genuine article). Aided by henchmen (Christian Slater, David Arquette and Bokeem Woodbine) and a ridiculous amount of firepower, they manage to escape with over three million dollars. However, when the discussions of the splitting up the cash begin, it becomes obvious that Costner is not interested in sharing. Thus begins the chase, centering on Michael (Russell) who is accompanied by hotel proprietor Cybil (Courtney Cox) and her son Jesse, and Murphy (Costner) who maims, kills, and blows up just about every innocent bystander that he comes across.

The film is overflowing with flaws, beginning with the fact that there is not a single likable character. Cox is irritating at best, and her motivation is never really clear. Although Russell is supposed to be the protagonist, it is only at the very end that he seems at all like a sympathetic character, and only then because we are so starved for someone to identify with. Michael"s relationship with Jesse, a precocious troublemaker, is not realistic enough to be believable or outrageous enough to be funny, and Michael"s so-called romance with Cybil is even more asinine.

Costner"s character is pure evil, but somehow he manages not to be scary at all. He seems to be going for a Mr. Blonde in "Reservoir Dogs" kind of character, but the problem is that he lacks some credibility. I mean, no one has ever seen Michael Madsen frolicking around, pretending to be a mailman.

The few people who could have saved the movie (Kevin Pollack and Jon Lovitz) have only fleeting roles and aren"t given the chance to bring the film out of its nose-dive, and the positive influence of their presence is cancelled out by the appearance of Ice-T and Howie Long, who play Costner"s hired muscle. Mercy.

The film is lacking in originality, believable acting and plot development, but these crimes could all be forgiven if the dialogue was clever and fresh. No luck.

Even the bits that have the potential to be memorable, such as their argument over who would win in a Sinatra vs. Presley battle, fall short and sound as if the screenwriter didn"t really care. Although "3000 Miles to Graceland" tries to cash in on "Reservoir Dogs" in character development and the chaotic, post-heist action, it never fulfills its potential as a cheesy, guilty pleasure action movie. Stick to the trailer.