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Two brothers, Leon and Bobby are members of the street gang in Brooklyn known as the deuces. Their brother was killed by a drug overdose a few years earlier and the gang is determined to keep drugs off their block. Another more vicous gang known as the vipers is a possible threat to Leon and Bobby's efforts. The deuces are determined to do whatever is necessary to keep drugs off their block even if that means dying. Written by
Only those nostalgic for nostalgia are likely to be very impressed by `Deuces Wild,' a film that seems somehow more attuned to the 50's-crazed 1970's a time when popular culture was embracing backward-looking fare like `American Graffiti' and `Happy Days' than to the era in which it is actually set. That happens to be Brooklyn in the summer of 1958, when the streets were overrun with denim- and leather-clad hoodlums who smoked cigarettes, drove cool cars, and strutted around looking for fights to protect or extend their seemingly God-given `turf.'
`Deuces Wild' feels like it is about 25 years out of date, especially since it adds nothing new to a well-worn genre that can pinpoint its beginnings as far back as 1961's magnificent `West Side Story.' In fact, this is little more than `West Side Story' sans the music and dancing. Although the Jets and the Sharks have been replaced by the Deuces and the Vipers, we still have all the other elements from that earlier, better film: the challenges, the rumbles, the ineffectual and almost nonexistent parents, even a pair of lovers from opposite gangs caught in the inter-neighborhood warfare. The boys are utterly interchangeable and indistinguishable from one another, the dysfunctional parents beyond belief (one mother is so far gone mentally that she celebrates Christmas all year round and even believes in the existence of Santa Claus), and the action so pretentiously filmed that half of the dramatic scenes come replete with studio-generated thunder and lightning designed to lend tragic `significance' to what is, essentially, pretty silly, garden-variety hooliganism. The closing rumble scene is so confusingly shot and edited that it takes the voiceover narration to straighten out for us who got killed and who didn't.
The cast of mostly youthful actors does its best with shallow, stereotypical roles, but one should at least pity poor Frankie Muniz, that charming young star of TV's `Malcolm in the Middle,' who delivers a surprisingly dorky performance in the extremely sketchy and underwritten part of Scooch, the neighborhood `good kid' whom Leon, the Deuces' leader, takes under his wing. Hopefully, Muniz' film career will get better from here on out.
About the best one can say for `Deuces Wild' is that it is one hell of a good-looking film, thanks to John A. Alonzo's rich cinematography, which enhances the film's fine period décor. A pity that little else about the film merits similar commendation.
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