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Jerry and his two pals, Russ and Syd, are just looking for some easy money to help them break out of their nowhere lives in their nowhere town. Despite a bungled jewelry store heist which exposes their incompetance as criminals, a fateful event (and an old black-and-white film) convinces them that they can pull off an armored-truck robbery. While they are busy plotting their caper, their dysfunctional families spin out of control, all around them. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
When Marlon Brando uttered the immortal line "I got a one-way ticket to "Palookaville" (in "On the Waterfront"), he was referring to his current life as washed-up boxer, crumb and stooge for the mob, living out his life in a kind of moral limbo, doing rotten things and not quite realizing their import until it's too late. The creators of this fine, quirky film reputedly got the idea for their movie from the line quoted above. Their idea of "Palookaville" is a forgotten nothing of a town where oddballs and misfits abound and where a job in the local pizzeria constitutes a career. The movie centers around a trio of professional losers, whose attempt to rob a jewelry store nets them nothing but some pastry from the bakery they break into by mistake. Their efforts to hold up armored cars yield similar results. Nearly everyone in their orbit seems to be a screw up, including their hapless girlfriends.
In spite of their criminal bent, our would-be crooks manage to be endearing (each robbery is going to be their "last job"), as is the entire movie. You find yourself rooting for them and when the intended burglary of the armored car gets them the town's highest honor (they did return the money, which makes them heroes to the town, which doesn't seem to realize what they were up to) you almost want to stand up and cheer. William Forsythe ("Gotti") anchors the film with his performance and his two dogs manage to steal several scenes. Vincent Gallo and Adam Trese are also fine as his accomplices, as is Frances McDormand, in a far-too-small role that for once emphasizes her good looks. This offbeat, comic film is definitely worth a look.
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