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With Friends Like These... (1998)

Four small-time two-bit character actors, all close friends, are competing for same important part in the next Martin Scorsese mob film.


(as Philip F. Messina)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Frederika Kesten ...
Carmine Costanzo ...


Four small-time two-bit character actors, all close friends, are competing for same important part in the next Martin Scorsese mob film.

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »


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Release Date:

10 September 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mom's Up on the Roof  »

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References The Larry Sanders Show (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

This feel-good comedy about actor-friends who betray one another for a part in a Scorcese film is really a masterly depiction of the "human condition" in modern society.
3 March 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"With Friends Like These" is a gem of a movie waiting to be discovered by millions of people who are intelligent, love comedies, and have a deep feeling for the human condition -- especially as it involves competition among friends for fame and fortune. While the friends in this movie are "bit actors" operating within the "Hollywood"/cinematic context, the forces that move them -- and us, as viewers -- are universal, and could apply to any group of friends, in any situation. The premise of the movie is simple, and like many things simple, it derives from a brilliant observation: friends will be disloyal to one another if they sense the rewards of disloyalty are great enough. On the face of it, the rewards seem obvious--money and adulation--but the desire for them itself reflects the true motivation of the actor-friends: desire for simple recognition of their talent in a system that chronically ignores and demeans them as human beings, artists, and professionals and -- at best -- underutilizes what they have to offer both film-makers and audiences. In a word, they are frustrated . . . to the point of desperation. And the thought of auditioning for Martin Scorcese himself -- in a new mob movie he is casting -- is irresistible. Worth anything, in fact -- even the risk of losing the love and respect of their dearest friends. Given this powerful motivator, the "secret" about the Scorcese audition initially held by one of the friends is soon let loose, and rapidly spreads among the others like an infectious disease . . . thus creating the competitive situation that fuels the film. Unlike most comedies today, however --which pathetically attempt to garner laughs from the audience through the characters' mindless "schtick," pratfalls, and mean-spirited jabs at one other -- the humor in "With Friends Like These" derives organically from the situation the characters find themselves in, aided by their idiosyncratic personalities. Even the situation, itself, however, and the types of characters who inhabit it, would not produce the guffaws, chuckles, and deep smiles that "Friends" does, were it not for the intimate knowledge of the movie industry and actors that Phil Messina, the writer-director, brings to every frame. "With Friends Like These" is much more than a comedy: It is a perceptive depiction of the "human condition" in a modern, capitalist society,conveyed in a humorous, humanistic way. For these reasons, "With Friends Like These" -- like the exceptional films of Woody Allen -- is a rare gem that should not be missed by anyone who loves great movies.

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