Some match-ups are literally made in heaven. Lies and lawyers; beer and puking; Tarantino and Christmas. I can comfortably say that both Die Hard and Pulp Fiction make an ideal Christmas double feature, while Iced Earth and Emperor compel me to hit the neighborhood doors for carol singing. It’s a nice change of pace, especially compared to going through 24-hour marathons of It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story on television. So, naturally, Tarantino has sewn together slavery, gratuitous violence and undeterred profanity to keep our holiday cheer in check.
Django Unchained pays gleeful homage to the spaghetti Western genre, giving us two acts of glee-induced entertainment stemming from its characters. Christoph Waltz sets the standout performances up, boasting a wonderfully articulate persona, expressing equal parts humanity and insanity. Dialogue and grizzly sections embody the 2 1/2 hour runtime, but it passes with next to no qualms. Assuming, that is, you aren’t the least bit squeamish. Remember the Saw movies at their most gruesome? Imagine a colorfully entertaining version of all that with a relatively cohesive plot and good characters. Did I say entertaining? I meant, to quote one elegantly maniacal Leonardo DiCaprio, rambunctious.
With the exception of one 10-15 minute stretch in the last act, Django proves almost unrelenting in its dark, twistedly fun sense of personal amusement. Yeah, there’s history and reality at the backdrop, but adult-edge slapstick violence remind us this is less a drama and more a crazy blend of comedy, action and tension. Talking is in heavy supply here, but even the smaller ongoings help break up and compliment the wonderfully burst-like pace.
Those who know and enjoy Tarantino’s techniques, along with the style paid tribute to, are bound to get the most out of it. Several people won’t react kindly to the film simply because of its content, regardless of the fact it’s almost too deliberate for its own good. But the more open-minded (or secretly cynical) viewer will get a lot out of Django, the least of which is a bloody good time that’ll make you want to shout “play it again” when the end credits begin.