Who Is Cletis Tout?

Who is Cletis Tout?

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Chris Ver Wiel
Produced by Matthew Grimaldi
Robert Snukal, Daniel Grodnick
Written by Chris Verwiel
Starring Christian Slater
Richard Dreyfuss
Tim Allen
Portia de Rossi
Music by Randy Edelman
Cinematography Jerry Zielinski
Edited by Roger Bondelli
Distributed by Paramount Classics
Release dates
  • September 12, 2001 (2001-09-12) (Toronto International Film Festival)
  • July 26, 2002 (2002-07-26) (United States)
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $9 million
Box office $252,706

Who is Cletis Tout? is a 2001 American-Canadian action comedy film written and directed by Chris Ver Wiel and starring Christian Slater, Richard Dreyfuss, and Tim Allen. The film is about mistaken identity getting in the way of recovering a stash of diamonds that was stolen and subsequently hidden more than 20 years earlier.


The film is told primarily in flashback, as the film first follows a hitman, Critical Jim (Tim Allen), who follows and holds at gunpoint a man he believes is Cletis Tout - but who actually is Finch (Christian Slater). Because Critical Jim is so fond of film noir and other classic films (such as Casablanca and Breakfast at Tiffany's), he's willing to listen to Finch as he tells his story, imagining it as a film in progress. Finch obliges, explaining how he got to be mistaken for Cletis Tout.

Finch happened to be in the same jail with Micah (Richard Dreyfuss), who stole diamonds more than 20 years before, then hid the diamonds and soon landed in prison. With Finch's help, Micah manages to break out, and the two get new identities for themselves, courtesy of a coroner (Billy Connolly) who owes Finch a favor.

The problem is that Finch's new identity is that of Cletis Tout, a photojournalist who managed to get a mafia figure's son strangling a woman on film. The head of the mafia gets his men to kill Tout (which is how the coroner got the identity for Finch), but when Finch goes to Cletis' apartment to look for his passport, a neighbor calls the police, who inform the mafia head that Cletis Tout is still alive.

After Micah meets up with his now grown-up daughter, Tess (Portia de Rossi), he's accidentally shot by the men sent to kill Cletis. Just before dying, Micah gets Finch to promise to watch after his daughter, and thus Tess and Finch begin an uneasy relationship as they look for the diamonds.

Meanwhile, the mafia head decides to bring in a professional, and subsequently calls in Critical Jim to finish the job. However, Critical Jim is more interested in where Finch's story will end - specifically, if he'll be able to reconcile with Tess in the end, giving the story a perfect Hollywood ending.



The film was a box office bomb, grossing $252,706 from a $9 million budget.[1] The film currently holds a 23% 'rotten' rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus: "Cliched and endlessly self-referential, Who is Cletis Tout? doesn't add anything original to the crime genre."[2]


There is a Bollywood remake entitled Anthony Kaun Hai (Who is Anthony?) starring Arshad Warsi, Sanjay Dutt, and Minissha Lamba.


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