"The meats betrayed me. What else could I do?"
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STUDIO: City Lights
RUNNING TIME: 99 Minutes
- Map of Mena Suvari’s Home World
A coming of age story set in New York’s beloved borough against a backdrop of friendship, love, and the mob. Never. Been. Done. Before.
Freddie Prinze, Jr., Scott Caan, Mena Suvari, Jerry Ferrara, Alec Baldwin.
Imagine if you will a cable network that is contractually obligated to not play A Bronx Tale, Sleepers, Once Upon in America, the Godfather series, Goodfellas, and all the other exceptional crime infused tales of young men comin’ up. For added measure, let’s assume this network is not allowed to play Deadly Friend, because if it isn’t on DVD no cable network should get it either. This ficticious network, deprived of those classic tales [well, Sleepers isn’t a classic but it’s fun to watch on a Sunday afternoon], has Brooklyn Rules and nothing else. It is a little film that so wants to ride the coattails of those other films into your heart that it’s hard not to like it.
Thankfully I persevered.
"You shouldn’t let your dog eat Bacon at the dinner table."
In reality, Brooklyn Rules is a harmless little movie. It’s familiar, doesn’t offend, and evokes some of the great staples of the genre but unlike something like Mobsters this prides itself on authenticy and credibility while starring Freddie Prinze, Jr.
There’s some kind of paradox there.
Written by The Sopranos vet Terence Winter and presumably based on his early years, the film centers around three young men played by Prinze, Scott Caan, and Entourage‘s Jerry Ferrara who have tried to grow up in Brooklyn without being smothered by it. Each deals in different ways with Prinze being the college boy, Caan the guy who fell in sway with the wise guys, and Ferrara being the Mama’s Boy trying to stave off responsibility as long as possible. Basically they’re playing my cousins from the Bronx but without the originality. Adding a little cred to Winter’s involvement is director Michael Corrente of Federal Hill, American Buffalo, and Outside Providence fame. The figurative father figure/devil on the shoulder to the young men is Caesar, played by Alec Baldwin, whose involvement takes this from being a typical direct-to-video yarn to something of a curiosity. It had a theatrical release [this is me beating the inevitable email correcting me to the punch] but not many folks had a chance to see it.
Baldwin complicates things because I’d watch that guy shit on photographs of me.
For Halloween, Eddie dressed up as Little Steven, Carl was Michael Jeter, and Alec Baldwin was Daniel Baldwin.
It’s as generic as generic gets but the leads all try to invest a sense of chemistry and authenticity and there’s no denying the value of the creative team of Winters and Corrente. That said, the film still manages to pull no new tricks out of its hat, instead revisiting familiar ground throughout its short [for a film like this] running time. You have the guy trying to walk the straight path in Prinze, trying to date a girl (Suvari) from the rich side of the tracks while still hanging with his pals. You have Scott Caan as a guy overly obsessed with his image and getting "respect", impulsive and the male ID in pre-corporeal form. Jerry Ferrara tries to be the glue that holds the friends together his character is more a collection of foibles than anything resonant. Baldwin acts tough and does his best DeNiro, but he’s obviously doing his Outside Providence pal a favor and only in appears in a few scenes [on 30 Rock off days?] and Mena Suvari succeeds in that I’m not as annoyed and repulsed by her as normal.
There’s the expected conflicts, the sacrificial friend, the life lessons learned and the ultimate denoument that ties it up all nice, but the fact that there’s no performance, arc, or visual moment that really gives the film any juice so the best I can say is that it’s a forgettable but inoffensive little movie.
"It’s like buttfucking James Caan, but smaller."
If you find yourself stuck on this fictional cable network, you’re probably better off watching this than some Nicholas Turturro-starrer but just don’t expect it to live up to Terence Winters’ formidable work on The Sopranos or the luminary films in the genre.
You will be lost at sea.
There’s a commentary track by the filmmakers and Winters does a good job of sharing the real life moments behind the onscreen events, couple with Corrente’s own experiences in Providence, but it doesn’t elevate the material. It just serves as a nice compliment. There’s obviously passion here, but the material just doesn’t support it.
5.5 out of 10