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I first saw Breaking In (1989) on late night television probably ten years ago and was instantly drawn in. This stars Burt Reynolds as old time Burglar Ernie Mullins. Although Burt is not one of my favorite actors he has made some good movies (Deliverance), (The Longest Yard), (Heat), (The End), and (Boogie Nights) . This is Probably one of his best movies. Along with Reynolds, Casey Siemaszko does a great job as a young Mike Lafeve who runs into Ernie (Burt Reynolds). Brilliant Writing by John Sayles and Great Direction by Bill Forsyth. A great guy flick you shouldn't miss.
I remember seeing this little film in the theater. It was a second run theater and this was the second part of a double feature with "The Abyss" which I had actually gone to see. I stuck around for this, not expecting much as Burt reynolds didn't have much a career going at this point. Boy, was I surprised! This film is a gem. A low-key comedy, where the humor doesn't come from gross-out belly laughs but from characters we can relate to. It was such a treat to see Reynolds shelve his tough-guy, trans-am persona and tackle a character role, showing warmth and depth akin to his work in Boogie Nights. I admit to a fondness for "caper" movies, and while this one fits the bill, it's not quite as clever in that department as some others, but this movie isn't about being clever, it's about people and how they relate to each other, even in the realm of burglars. If you haven't seen this, it's well worth renting.
I was the music editor on "Breaking In" the experience of working with Bill Forsyth was one of the highlights of my long career. I just wish everyone could see the Director's cut. It was head-and-shoulders above the release edit. It was a very strange hybrid...John Sayles and Bill Forsyth - produced by Sam Goldwyn Jr. I'll never forget the day when Bill got yet another huge list of changes Goldwyn wanted - at the end of the list he asked Bill to respond to the changes he wanted - and also asked Bill(who is a Scot) to recommend a single malt whiskey for a party he was having. Bill sent a case of whiskey to Goldwyn with a note saying "This should answer both of your questions" The name of the whiskey was "KNOCKANDHU" !
What makes this buddy crime comedy work rests essentially on it's
sympathetic characters. Delivered here in traditional veteran/rookie
fashion,the story paces along steadily as young and endearingly
misguided Mike (Siemaszko) is given life lessons in the art of safe
cracking by world-weary professional Earl (Reynolds). The chemistry
between the two leads allows for cleverly-conceived comedic scenes to
shine forth beautifully. From the moment of their initial accidental
meet-up, you are instantly hooked. The film's best quality though is
it's ironic approach to burglary, for Earl talks of "The Job" as though
it were a viable career option! This is Sayles' savvy screenplay
technique undoubtedly shining through. Guided by Forsyth's refined
direction, this comedy never veers into slapstick, distinguishing it
from the later inferior 'Safe Men'. It never strives to be what it
isn't, and so it rarely disappoints. A similarly-styled, yet darker
film worthy of viewing is Saul Rubinek's 'Jerry and Tom'.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
Even though I appreciate Burt's bombastic,snide,cocky,gum chewing persona of old it was fun seeing him as vulnerable and pragmatic. I love caper movies and even though this one is tongue-in-cheek it is quite entertaining. I especially love the cat-burglar genre. Siemaszcko does a nice job of combining the youthful and arrogant with the need for those "coming up" to learn from a mentor. The movie doesn't take itself seriously but provides a good relationship story. Alot of fun if you just let it happen to you without analyzing every aspect. If you liked Siemaszcko in this check him out in Young Guns, and 3 o'clock high.
Burt Reynolds successfully ends a rather slow 1980's with a surprisingly good character part in this 1989 Samuel Goldwyn Pictures release. He portrays a veteran professional thief and safecracker who teaches a young novice how to be like him. Amusing crime caper.
I caught this flick on Late Night Television about 12 years ago and was instantly drawn into it. Ever since whenever it comes on I usually watch it or at least part of it since I have seen it so many times. A True Relatively Unknown Gem. A guys flick. The two leads Burt Reynolds and Casey Siemaszko are great in it. Great Writing and Directing. Highly Entertaining. Character Development and story were spot on. Great Caper Flick for men who like Caper flicks.
Burt Reynolds broke out of his leading man pigeonhole to attempt, for once, a more believable role, playing a middle-aged, low-rent burglar who enlists the help of a dumb but loyal grease monkey and then proceeds to give him lessons in both larceny and life. There are a few heists along the way, but this is more a character study than a caper film, and it works in large part because of the rapport and timing between Reynolds and his blue collar sidekick Casey Siemaszko. Both characters are losers, and it might be argued that losers make more engaging heroes, perhaps because they're easier to identify with. In the spirit of earlier Bill Forsythe films it's a slim but disarming comedy, with an extra measure of depth in the canny screenplay by John Sayles, as always the working man's champion, who along the way makes some minor but interesting points about the haves and the have-nots.
Pardon my pun above, but if there's any reason at all to try and catch
Breaking In, Burt Reynolds is the main reason. He underplays Ernie, a
veteran safe cracker who goes about his business being low key and
certainly not flashy at all. He winds up teaming up with a youngster
named Mike, played by Casey Siemaszko, who rejuvenates Ernie and he
hires him as an apprentice for odd jobs cracking safes. The first half
of the forgotten film is the better half because of Reynolds'
performance as the aging thief, and is both sympathetic and funny,
especially the scenes he's teaching Mike the ropes. It's unfortunate
Burt passed up on many good movie roles because the man can act.
Anyhow, the latter half of Breaking In revolves around how flashy Mike
has become with his cash rewards and his hooker/on and off girlfriend,
which I thought slowed the film down a bit. I found Carrie annoying and
uninteresting and rather selfish; not sure what Mike saw in her.
Watch this film mainly for Reynolds' performance, as he plays his role convincingly and develops decent chemistry with Mike. Siemaszko also plays his role well, but not quite up to par with his partner in crime.
Burt Reynolds has had a very shaky career. Truth be told he has made far more bad movies than he has good movies. I personally believe it is because of very poor choices, such as , lame cop movies, smokey and the bandit sequels and both cannonball run flicks. However, amongst the very large pile of "ruff" this movie is a real diamond. His character of "Earnie", the gruff but lovable experienced thief taking a young naive kid under his wing trying to teach him the ropes and tricks of the trade is done with such subtle depth by Reynolds, that it caught me completely and delightfully offgaurd. When you think about it, this was not a big budget movie and Burt gives a fantastic performance just like he does in "Boogie Nights", which is also not a big budget film. Yet when it is a huge budget movie, Reynolds tends to give rather unispired and perfunctory performances. Maybe he should stick with these indie flicks more often.
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