Mediocre Mob Dramedy Comes to DVD
Directed by John Dahl, this disappointing mafia comedy is a frustrating mix of humor and drama which never quite decides whether it wants to be taken seriously or just for the jokes. The film stars Sir Ben Kingsley as Frank Falenczyk, a mobster ostensibly-inspired by Robert De Niro’s nonpareil performance in Analyze This.
But where De Niro played a head case on the verge of a nervous breakdown, this assassin is an alcoholic who relies on a 12-step program. After he botches an assignment to execute the don (Dennis Farina) of a competing crime family, Frank is sent by his boss (Philip Baker Hall) from Buffalo to San Francisco to dry out.
Trusting that everyone in his AA group will keep his confidences, he admits not only to being an alcoholic but a murderer, too. In spite of owning up to his grisly line of work, Frank is befriended by his gay sponsor (Luke Wilson), a toll taker on the Golden Gate Bridge.
He also takes a job at a mortuary, and starts to date Laurel (Tea Leoni), a brassy businesswoman with boundary issues. She opts to abandon her own career to accompany her new beau back to Buffalo when he is called back to deal with an Irish gang muscling in on his syndicate’s turf.
Unfortunately, Tea, a gifted actress who has been hilarious in Spanglish (2004) and Hollywood Ending (2002), is simply abandoned by a script which is never very funny, yet too preposterous on its face to be taken seriously. The same is the case for Sir Ben, who gives only a few flashes of the form of a four-time Oscar-nominee here.
An unsatisfying compromise flick on the fence which might have worked had it either been played straight or purely for laughs.
Fair (1 star)
Rated R for profanity and violence.
Running time: 92 minutes
Studio: Genius Productions
DVD Extras: “Behind the scenes” featurette, optional commentary by the director scriptwriters, a before and after visual effects comparison, and a theatrical trailer.