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Two untalented singers are mistaken for a pair of major league safe crackers in Providence, Rhode Island. The two are pressed into service by the local hoodlums and quickly find themselves in conflict with their professional colleagues. Romantic interest is added by the daughter of the underworld leader who won't date the men she knows are gangsters. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
"Safe Men" is an overall rather slight but engaging farce that goes a long way on the strength of its many colourful characterizations. It might not necessarily give the viewer many belly laughs, but it's still guaranteed to put a smile on their faces. Thankfully it does have a nicely offbeat nature (thanks to writer / director John Hamburg and a talented cast) that helps to make it consistently watchable.
Sam Rockwell and Steve Zahn play Sam and Eddie, a not terribly gifted singing duo whose gigs are somewhat less than prestigious. But their lives take an incredible, bizarre turn when they're mistaken for professional safecrackers by "Veal Chop" (Paul Giamatti), the flunky of local Jewish mobster Bernie Gayle (Michael Lerner). They actually go along with this idea, although predictably they're not exactly good at the job. Sam falls for Hannah (Christina Kirk), the daughter of a local fence (Harvey Fierstein), and the *real* safecrackers (Mark Ruffalo and Josh Pais) go about their business with their customary efficiency.
The actors all play this so well that you can't help but get sucked in. Rockwell, playing a lovable loser, and Zahn have fine comic chemistry, and the supporting cast is a joy to watch. Lerner is fun as the zesty mobster, Ruffalo is amusing as a lovesick sap, Fierstein is a revelation as the fence, and Giamatti is particularly delicious as the low level mobster who's loyal to the core.
Overall there's a fair amount of heart and charm to this simple little film. Some of its scenes, like the bar mitzvah, are just priceless. It's mostly a low-key affair, but is just funny and quirky enough to make it well worth ones' time. You genuinely like the characters - even Lerner - and hopefully become curious to see how it will all resolve itself.
Seven out of 10.
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