More than anything, “Destiny Turns On The Radio” now looks like a time relic of that period in the ’90s where, as a New York Times interview with Quentin Tarantino put it, “every third script out there is described as ‘Tarantino-esque.'” The go-nowhere, but still busy, plotting, the musical numbers that go on forever, the solid cast (besides Tarantino) doing shtick that feels beneath them, the allusions to God — in the best-case scenario this all might add up to something pleasurable that just feels a little thin. But this isn’t the best-case scenario, and every individual piece of the movie’s architecture is out of tune with the rest, creating something uniquely obnoxious.
Still, it’s Tarantino’s performance that feels like the movie’s most significant legacy. The director had always harbored a fascination with acting but was capable of putting it in the backseat when the opportunity to make his own films arrived. But with the underground excellence of “Reservoir Dogs” and the massive success of “Pulp Fiction,” Tarantino was given far more roles than somebody of his acting talent might expect. And he took them, as well as the “potshots” he felt he consequently got from critics, per the New York Times.
“Destiny Turns On The Radio” just happened to miscalculate what he could bring at his best. Nobody who’s seen Tarantino’s small roles in “Pulp Fiction” or “Django Unchained” thinks he’s a great actor, but when he’s directing himself, he makes for big, funny characters that jump off the screen. Playing subtle and cool, and godlike, was not his strong suit.