As an employee of Blockbuster, it's easy to see that where moviegoing is concerned, there's always a bold line that separates the Happy Gilmores from the Punch-Drunk Loves. I'm referring specifically to those who think that Adam Sandler's career went downhill by starring in an ironically-labeled "stupid, pointless art film," and those who think it went uphill with that film, which featured a competent and admirable performance on his part, and top-notch direction, story, and sound design. Most of my customers belong in the former; most of them are those who consider a movie like Dumb and Dumber a "classic" because it induces the most hysterical laughter out of every comedy made in the 90s. As long as the leads drink mustard and fuck pies, all is well with the world and a Blockbuster night is had by all. This division is universally recognized yet hardly spoken of or acknowledged, and filmmakers can do very little to make these camps agree on something.
One of the few directors who can blur that line so well, and satisfy both sides, is Quentin Tarantino. Since his first two films, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, the Happy Gilmores and Punch-Drunk Loves could unite in their love for something. The Happy Gilmores can admire the torture, the humor, the suits, and the "cool factor" of characters like the Vega brothers (Mr. Blonde from Reservoir Dogs, Vincent from Pulp Fiction), and the Punch-Drunk Loves can admire the unconventionally jumbled chronology, the emotion, the direction, and the character development.
Kill Bill takes an even larger step forward and annihilates the line that, while blurred with his previous films, still existed. My 10-year-old step-sister could still watch Jules cite Exodus and cap Frank Whaley, and to my shock, brush it off with a simple "that was gay." In Kill Bill, however, virtually every scene produces some kind of enjoyment for both camps. Both sides laugh at the coma-rape jokes, and both sides are sadistically captivated by the insane violence and beauty of the "Showdown at House of Blue Leaves" chapter.
This is Tarantino's personal homage to the kung-fu films that he grew up with in the 70s, but even if the audience doesn't get the references, they can still have a good time if they let the film provide it. The dialogue is not as slick as in his previous films, but this is important because you'll never see Sonny Chiba discuss the impact of the metric system on the European fast food market in Kage No Gundan, or Bruce Lee talking about Madonna's vagina in Fists of Fury. QT fans need not worry, however, because there are plenty of his signature quotables in Kill Bill.
One could not fathom ending a review of a Tarantino flick without mentioning the soundtrack. Music is a keystone in his films, and its meticulous selection, timing, and application to the storyline is truly admirable. Kill Bill features Tarantino's absolute best soundtrack, and possibly one of the greatest soundtracks period. Some people might counter that statement with "nuh uh, cause Donnie Darko," but anybody reading this article can piece together a bunch of classic indie tunes without very much thought and all. Inserting a Bunnymen tune isn't particularly brilliant, but combining music from Nancy Sinatra, The RZA, and Zamfir into a single soundtrack takes balls and brains to do. From the opening credits where warbly guitars and Sinatra create a song whose lyrics are eerily mirrored by the storyline, to the Zamfir song "The Lonely Shepherd" where even the secondary instruments contribute to the chills down your spine, Kill Bill combines a goregeous visual assault given life through excellent song selection.
I also have to mention the film's seemingly infinite rewatch value. I've seen the movie 5 times in its first two weeks and I'm still not sick of it. This easily enters my top 15 favorite movies ever. I curse QT's decision to release the DVD in the spring rather than coinciding with Vol 2's release in late February because the movie is costing my 5-6 dollars per Kill Bill withdrawal. If you haven't seen it, go to the theater immediately. I don't care if you're reading this late at night. Camp out and see it as soon as possible. If you've seen it already, see it again. And again. And again. And again.