When Quentin Tarantino’s mobsters engage in ardent, mock-scholastic debates on the intricacies of pop culture, at least they sound, in their ironic brainiac way, like real underworld mooks. In Who Is Cletis Tout?, Tim Allen appears as a hitman obsessed with vintage Hollywood, but he just comes off as a weightless movie geek who happens to be holding a gun. He’s no more convincing than the writer-director, Chris Ver Wiel, who strings together faux-QT, faux-Elmore Leonard clichés like so many necklace beads and pretends that’s the same thing as making a movie.
Awful yet unduly pleased with itself, ”Who Is Cletis Tout?” is the sort of sense-impaired caper in which Christian Slater, as a genial escaped convict, takes on the false identity of a man named Cletis Tout for no discernible reason apart from the filmmaker’s desire to have everyone on screen keep on repeating the name…Cletis Tout. Try this at home and you’ll discover: It gets more annoying each time.