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'Knockaround Guys'

Mob goes west in 'Knockaround Guys'

Friday, October 11, 2002

By Barry Paris, Post-Gazette Film Critic

Dennis Hopper as the Godfather? Vin Diesel as Jewish? What's the Mafia coming to?


RATING: R for violence, language and some drug use

STARRING: Barry Pepper, Dennis Hopper, John Malkovich, Vin Diesel

DIRECTORS: Brian Koppelman and David Levien

Critic's Call:


It's coming to Montana, where a bunch of younger primo dons has just screwed up a simple job. "Pick up the bag of money and bring it straight back," were the instructions. But a cokehead pilot named Marbles got scared and left it behind.

You'd expect that from such "Knockaround Guys," aspiring to be "Wise Guys" or "GoodFellas" or something more closely resembling mobsters: Barry Pepper is Son of Godfather, a softie trying to prove himself worthy; John Malkovich is his God-Uncle mentor; Vin is the unlikely brawn in an outfit largely lacking a brain; and Tom Noonan is the local sheriff of a half-horse town named Wibaux. If it weren't for the bar, they'd have no culture at all there.

The picture was co-directed and co-written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien. It took two of them? Orson made "Kane" alone. Anyway, Brian and Dave were shooting for a hybrid between gangster film and western. All it needs is a Mel Brooksian meshugga Indian to complete a very odd cast of characters: Barry Pepper lacks spice. Diesel, sporting a Star of David tattoo the size of a frisbee, is over- fueled. Hopper and Malkovich are running on low-octane regular. Even the guns in "Knockaround Boys" are pretty unleaded.

Someday, an enterprising western lawyer is gonna file a defamation of small-town character suit against Hollywood, and I want to be on the legal team when it collects its 40 percent of the award.

Barry Paris can be reached at 412-263-3859.

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