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Review by Rich Cline |
dir Paolo Pilladi
scr Paolo Pilladi, Greg Lingo
prd DJ Dodd, Rob Simmons, Ante Novakovic
with Jeremy Piven, Taryn Manning, Zach McGowan, Jack McGee, Jamie Kennedy, Bruce Dern, Cathy Moriarty, Cheri Oteri, Chris Kerson, Peter Patrikios, Garry Pastore, Kresh Novakovic
release US 19.Mar.21,
Is it streaming?
A scrappy, good-natured comedy set in an Irish-American community, this movie is vaguely engaging even as everything about it feels contrived. Relentlessly nostalgic, the movie's weathered premise is naggingly predictable, played without much nuance. But it stays busy enough to distract us from time to time, and the ensemble cast members have an off-handed charm that adds some wit and sass to the interaction between their thin characters.
When his mother dies, Philadelphia property developer Mick (Piven) returns to the suburb he grew up in, where his dad (McGee) and trouble-making brother Dougal (McGowan) run a pub that's crowded but still going under. While supporting them, Mick reconnects with his childhood sweetheart Ali (Manning). But he also has a secret agenda: drumming up support for a proposed casino development that will obliterate this fading neighbourhood. So the community faces an impossible decision: fight to preserve their history or take the money and run? And Mick's bosses are even more ruthless than he is.
Director Pilladi gives the film a loose energy, capturing local culture as well as freewheeling connections between the characters. There are amusingly random comical sequences, as well as a few painful farcical moments and several gags that aren't developed enough to land. It certainly doesn't help that extended jokes centre around sexual situations the filmmakers timidly shy away from. The movie's just about watchable for its haphazard humour, even as it prevents the plot from clicking into gear.
Piven is a decade too old for this role, but carries it off by playfully engaging in sparky banter with his family and friends. Because this is the usual sellout-returns-home story, his journey is never surprising and allows for no depth at all. So it's the quirky people around him who keep things enjoyably off-balance. His half-baked romance with the plucky Manning never gets off the ground, although McGowan adds some loopy charisma, as do seasoned scene-stealers like Dern and Moriarty.
As locals slowly realise that this casino won't actually revive the neighbourhood, a stand-off emerges between the developers and the locals, with Mick trapped in between them. This is presented as such a simplistic dilemma that there's never a question about what he will do. Instead of exploring themes that might have helped the audience connect with the story, filmmakers Pilladi and Lingo spend much of the running time indulging in the antics of Mick's chucklehead pals. So the sudden pivot into the usual rousing final act rings false.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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