Vig (1998 TV Movie)
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Peter Falk is very believable as the stained-by-life bookie with a generous heart. Freddie Prinze, Jr is chilling as the cocky and arrogant nephew of the underboss. He is down right COLD! He deserves his fame.
The rest of the cast is simply terrific. My only beef: Everyone should have had Boston accents since they were in Boston.
7 out of 10 stars. A joy to watch.
Vig (or Money Kings) is a story about how the simple way of life can never be the status quo. This is a story about commitment, responsibility, sacrifice and doing what is right. Great movie and a touching tale.
I caught this one on TV and it did turn out to be a pretty good drama if you're not already exhausted with the millions of movies about the mob. Although, Freddie Prinz, Jr. was a miscast is barely convincing in the macho role of Tony Cicero, nor could he pull off the accent. His consistent pretty boy appearance and lightweight performance just wasn't enough to make a believable adversary of any of the so-called "good guys" in this movie (namely, Peter Falk as Vin, the owner of the pub). He always looked ready to laugh. Peter Falk, too, came off a bit wooden. (And, the fist fighting and face-slapping scenes were horribly choreographed). But the story may be just enough to interest anyway. Good supporting cast.
I'd never heard of the film, but any film with Peter Falk, Tyne Daly, Timothy Hutton, etc. should be interesting, right? Well, the pity of the movie is that they DO start out with an interesting premise. They have actors who radiate intelligence and charm and, because of their past works, carry a lot of goodwill--especially with audiences who are old enough to want to watch this film because Peter Falk is in it and not because they want to see Freddie Prinze, Jr.'s early work.
Peter Falk and Tyne Daly make a charming, believable married couple.Tyne Daly's speech about some tough times early in their marriage is particularly moving. You feel for the Lauren Holly character. You wish the Timothy Hutton character would get a clue. There's a chance for a slice of life movie about a bookie who's as ethical as such a profession will allow him to be and what happens when the vultures want to muscle in--a particularly annoying plot point by the way, since Falk's character has said he's retiring in a year and we believe him.
As soon as the Freddie Prinze, Jr. character takes center stage, the movie goes wrong. It's not Prinze's fault. He's playing a cruel, stupid, violent, perverse gangster wannabe whose story arc sends the movie in a different, starker, more hopeless direction. It's as if I started out watching a movie directed by Gary Marshall and ended up with a movie directed by Quentin Tarrantino. "The Lemon Drop Kid" plus the most bleak episodes of "The Sopranos" = this movie. The cast and set-up deserved a less nihilistic ending. It's an ending calculated for maximum "bum-out." It made me sorry that I watched it until the end.
The actors are always worth watching. The script should have served them better.
Having his not too dependable under-link Uncle Pete, Frank Vincent, break in his coke sniffing nephew Tony Cisero, Freddie Prince Jr, as both Vinnie's partner and muscle man, debt collector, Locasso made the biggest blunder since Hitler invaded the USSR back in June 1941. Tony thinking that he's Al Capone Jr quickly made a mess of Vinnie's bookie operation in not knowing the business of gently persuading-without having to break their arms legs or heads-his deadbeat customers to either pay up or be cut off from all the gambling action. A fate worse then death for anyone who's hooked on gambling.
It was in fact Tony who got Vinnie to see the light in what he's been doing over the years in living off his many sick and compulsive degenerate gambling customers. Taking advantage of this sick sorry a** of a human being the out of work and always drunk Frankie Paterson, Timothy Hutton, Tony took his $1,100.00 bet on the Dallas Cowboys, who were behind by almost 20 points at the time he took it, knowing that the poor slob was in no condition to make a bet in the first place!
Frankie had stolen his hard working wife's Marybeth, Lauren Holly, vacation money and after getting smashed, on cheap booze, staggered into Vinnie's office, with Vinnie away, and plunked Marybeth's money down on Dallas adding another $5,000.00, that he didn't have, on top of it with Frankie taking the bet! It's when Vinnie finds out what a mess Frankie made of not only himself but his family he tries to get Tony to smooth things over by having Marybeth pay off Frankie's debt by giving Tony, as well as himself, $200.00 a week that only include the vig or interest. That sound financial arrangement on Vinnie's part would take about seven months for Marybeth to pay her husband Frankie's debt, minus the vig, off.
A desperate Marybeth is only able to come up with $150.00 a week in order to save her strung out husband Frankie-who's so drunk that he doesn't know that he lost the bet-from sleeping with the fishes. This has, in knowing a good thing when he sees one, Tony demands for Marybeth to put out, or prostitute herself, for him to make up the $50.00 that she came up short with! Seeing just how things got out of hand after Tony became his partner in the bookie business Vinnie then decided to quit the racket but only after he not only cleaned out Tony's clock but his chicken livered,in his always buckling down to his Mafiso boss Locasso, Uncle Pete's as well!
Even though the ending of the movie was a bit too hard to take Peter Falk's performance as bookie Vinnie Glen was one of the best of of his long movie and TV career. Having a heart of gold in a business, taking illegal bets and loan sharking, where it's almost unheard off Vinnie got himself into a bind that he knew he'll never get out off. The both ruthless Tony and his Uncle Pete, as well as mob boss Locasso's, tactics started to turn off Vinnie to the point where he decided to sell his bar, as well as his bookie business, and move with his wife Ellen, Tyne Daly, down to sunny Florida.
***SPOILERS*** It was when Vinnie caught Tony forcing himself on a disgusted and repulsed Marybeth, in his office no less, that he just lost control of himself. It's not that Vinnie stopped Tony from having his way with Marybeth, she did that herself, he instead ended up freeing himself once in for all form this whole rotten business of taking book and shaking down and working over those sick unfortunate souls who can't or just won't pay up!