If I could have chosen the decade in which to live my thirties in, it would have been the sixties for sure. It is simply because from what I see have seen, all of which from movies of course, the sixties has a cool factor of ten. But since I wasn’t born at a time, I instead have to live that life through what I see on the big screen. Which at times looks a whole a lot better than what we are living through now. So with the turbulent times this year has wrought, a Drew Goddard film about a faithful night at a hotel in that time feels exactly like what I need.
The El Royale once was “the” place to be, but that was another world now. The past doesn’t concern us anymore, the present is all that matters and tonight a group of strangers will have a night that won’t soon forget. It starts with a vacuum salesman named Laramine Seymour Sullivan (John Hamm), Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), and Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo) arriving to check in at the same time. All are there for their own reasons and they are soon joined by Emily Summerspring (Dakota Johnson), who is the least friendly of the bunch. The hotel is a shell of itself and has only one employee, Miles (Lewis Pullman) who does it all plus a little more than anyone realizes. As the guest retreat to their rooms the reasons they are there are soon revealed and that’s when you find out what a bag of money, a singer, and a cult all have in common on this faithful night as there are Bad Times at the El Royale.
The thought of Drew Goddard doing a Tarantino-esque film seems like a good idea on paper, I mean with that cast and all. You have Hamm, Bridges, Johnson, and Chris Hemsworth playing crazy, I mean what’s not to like? Well while there is plenty to enjoy there is also plenty of things to hold it back from being the greatness you would want. To start with the run time, at almost two and a half hours we are given a little too much bad times. Sure that is more time for great cast to shine, but it actually works against it in this case, because things just seem to drag in the last half of the film. The other thing holding it back is the characters, when you want more of them they aren’t around long enough and what this ends of feeling like is Tarantino-light. That is not to say there aren’t things to admire and for me what comes in as a strong beginning and the performances of Bridges and Erivo who both shine it looked like it was on the right track. It seems like all the ingredients were there for a killer of a movie, but Goddard doesn’t quite deliver like he did with 10 Cloverfield Lane, but instead something with just enough early entertaining moments to make you happy, but also make you think of what could have been. While it doesn’t quite live up to its name, after the credits I felt like it was more of an ok time at The Royale than anything else.