March 23, 2008

A Pleasant Surprise

I've seen three good movies in the last couple of days, but only one was a surprise; the other two came recommended by people with pretty good taste. The third, Knockaround Guys, was an impulse buy from Sam's Club, in a ten dollar bundle with a couple of movies I really don't expect to like and have already forgotten the titles of.

This movie has its share--okay, more than its share--of cliches, but it could have been worse. Yes, Dennis Hopper is the protagonist's mobster dad, but he's not in the film much, and he's pretty low key. Hey, it could have been a lot worse. It could have been Christopher Walken.

Seth Green is, well, Seth Green, and Vin Diesel is certainly Vin Diesel. But they're part of the ensemble. Barry Pepper, who has quite the remarkable list of credits, was actually quite good in this role. Did this performance lead directly to his being cast in the role of a lifetime: The Intimidator? We can only speculate.

What makes the movie work is that in the tradition of a lot of great noir films, this one takes the mobsters out of the city and sticks them in the middle of nowhere, where they have to tangle with dramatically bad luck as well as a corrupt, but not typically corrupt sheriff, played by the brilliant character actor Tom Noonan. He was great in Mystery Train, which I just rewatched the other day (see it if you haven't), and he was great here. My new goal is to watch Tom Noonan's complete oeuvre. Next on my list: They're Made Out of Meat.

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