Pulp Fiction: the Citizen Kane of Pop Culture

My history with this movie is complicated and unfairly biased. My first night at film school, I got wrapped up in the social obligations of orientation week and found myself in a common room watching Pulp Fiction. I had never heard of this movie. I had no idea it was famous and critically loved.

I fell asleep.

Since then, I’ve heard all the pop culture references, and nodded along because, pfft, who hasn’t seen Pulp Fiction, am I right? It’s a classic!

Finally I realized that Pulp Fiction was indeed available on Netflix, which meant no more excuses. Time to watch the epitome of film school classics.

sam and john.jpeg

And then I put it off for so long, that Netflix took it down without my knowledge. But hey, I am nothing if not persistent. And I felt that it was only fitting that my first movie review as college graduate should be for the infamous cult movie that loomed over my entire film school experience.

I think my (now former) roommate summed it up best by saying, “My problem with Pulp Fiction is the same problem I have with Love Actually: there are storylines that I care about more than others.”

I understood why this movie was so well known, sort of. Quentin Tarantino obviously has a huge following at my school. I also picked out a ton of scenes while watching and thought, oh that’s the iconic moment I’ve heard so much about.

Obvious pros: Samuel L. Jackson. Every scene with him was an iconic one. I recognized the car washing scene that those brothers really liked in the Wolfpack documentary. It was much funnier knowing the context. (“The car hit a bump!” John Travolta wails, as the car drips with blood.)


Uma Thurman’s narrative was definitely my favorite. I’d seen clips of the diner scene before, but it never captured my attention. Watching her whole story play out made me realize that her character was actually a fascinating, deeply flawed person. I definitely enjoyed it more, knowing how her story took a drastic turn for the worst.

Unfortunately, the movie was just so dang long. I know I’ve used this as a complaint in past reviews. I have conflicting feelings about it as well. I don’t believe that a great film should sacrifice crucial moments in order to fit into a set time-frame, but at the same time, it loses the re-watchability factor.

Pulp Fiction felt like three movies in one. And while I would have gladly watched two hours of Uma Thurman and John Travolta, I truly didn’t care about Bruce Willis’s storyline. It came in too late into the movie, and quite honestly, I didn’t even remember how it connected to any of the other narratives.

bruce willis

So, in the end, I liked how the movie connected each narrative back to the opening scene. I liked imagining how those poor shmucks must have felt when they made the mistake of robbing a diner while Samuel L. Jackson was eating breakfast. I liked how the comedic moments worked along with the intense blood and violence.

Pulp Fiction was a good movie – an objectively good movie – just not one I’d watch more than once. I knew film buffs who swore by it, and others who thought it was overrated. I personally was glad to check this Big Kahuna of movies off my watch list and I don’t imagine I’ll be back for a second viewing.


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