Saturday 12 January 2019

Movie Review: Wise Guys (1986)

A witless comedy, Wise Guys fails to find humour in the story of two bumbling low-level mob operatives.

In New Jersey, Harry Valentini (Danny DeVito) and his sidekick and neighbour Moe Dickstein (Joe Piscopo) are non-violent and none-too-bright members of the crew run by mobster Anthony Castelo (Dan Hedaya). The gruff Frank "Fixer" Acavano (Lou Albano) gives the pair menial daily assignments. When Harry and Moe manage to botch a horse racing bet and lose a bundle of Castelo's money, the pair get into a heap of trouble.

Harry and Moe steal Acavano's Cadillac and make their escape to Atlantic City, where Harry hopes his connected Uncle Mike will help. But instead they tangle with casino owner Bobby DiLea (Harvey Keitel), who has an agenda of his own.

A lightweight and inconsequential comedy, Wide Guys threatens to drift off at the mere hint of a puff. In one of his least inspired outings, director Brian De Palma constructs a breathlessly unfunny premise riding solely on the antics of dimwits and idiots. A couple of chuckles just about escape from the dross, but otherwise this is a distressingly poor effort.

Danny DeVito tries to compensate with a frantic over-acting fast-talking performance, all to no avail. Joe Piscopo is all wide-eyed vibratory expressions and nothing else. The rest of the cast hide behind stock characterizations, and late on Harvey Keitel mails in one of his  blandest characters, raising doubt as to whether he even cared enough to read the script.

Wise Guys celebrates a special kind of stupid. The sloppy script offers gems such as Harry and Moe destroying Fixer's Cadillac while driving it at highway speeds, prematurely celebrating a race win when the horses are barely out of the gate, and leaving a massive credit card trail when theoretically on the run.

The one small mercy is the compact running time of 100 minutes. The short length cannot disguise Wise Guys as hopelessly short of talent and desperately short of inspiration.

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  1. I stopped watching this after 15 mins. it was just so terrible with terrible humour. or lack thereof.

    1. Yes, about 15 minutes is all this one deserves...


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