I’ve long believed that hell will consist of being strapped to a chair with my eyes propped open—à la Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange—while that scene from I Love Lucy where Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance try to contend with a conveyor belt of chocolates in a candy factory plays in an endless loop on the screen. Having seen Michael Corrente’s Brooklyn Rules, I may have to rethink my vision.
I don’t even know why this movie has slunk into town. It actually opened back in mid-May to unexciting reviews (the best of which praised it as “surprisingly adequate”), only to crawl off into that corner where bad movies sit while they wait their turn for space in the DVD dump bin at Wal-Mart. So, what’s it doing poking its head up on the big screen months later? I have no idea, but my best guess is that it’s a theater chain doing a favor for the distributor in hopes of getting something they actually want. The only other possibility involves blackmail.
Here’s a simple test to determine whether there could be any possible reason to see this movie. First off, say you’ve got three kids in Brooklyn (yeah, it could be the Bronx or Queens, but Brooklyn will do) and they’re all firm friends. One day they come across a car with a murdered man in it—along with a pack of Marlboros, a revolver and, get this, a puppy in a carrying case. One of the boys, Michael (newcomer Paulo Araujo), cops the smokes, while Carmine (newcomer Ty Thomas Reed) takes the gun, and Bobby (Daniel Tay, Elf) rescues the puppy. Got that? Right. Then they grow up. Michael (Freddie Prinze Jr.) has become a socially ambitious college boy. Carmine (Scott Caan) has matured into a greasy gangster wannabe with appalling taste in clothes. Bobby (Jerry Ferrara, TV’s Entourage) has become a chubby all-around good guy with a sweet girlfriend, a family and a tendency to have to stop and pray whenever he sees a statue of the Virgin Mary. Now, will it be A.) Michael, B.) Carmine or C.) Bobby who won’t make it past the fourth reel? If there’s any doubt in your mind as to which of these boys is marked for slaughter, then you might find some passing interest in Brooklyn Rules. Anyone else would be well-advised to seek entertainment elsewhere. If there happens to be a jacks tournament on the sidewalk outside of your house, that would be far more exciting.
Despite the film’s supposed goombah cred thanks to the writing of Terence Winter of The Sopranos fame (and let us not forget such gems as Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2005) and a few episodes of Xena and The New Adventures of Flipper), there’s absolutely nothing to recommend the film as anything other than a sagging collection of predictable clichés and brain-numbing boredom, though there is the occasional outcropping of unintended mirth thanks to a number of bad ideas badly executed. High on the list of this last is the idea of Freddie Prinze Jr. doing a dese-dem-and-dose accent for 99 minutes—or at least for as many of those minutes as he can remember to keep it up. Someone actually thought this was a good idea? Well, it’s probably not that much worse than the fact that there’s really no story (something you don’t realize until about the three-quarter mark, by which time you’ve already been had). Too bad there isn’t just no movie either. Rated R for violence, pervasive language and some sexual content.