21 user 16 critic

Things Change (1988)

Shoe-shiner Gino is hired to take the rap for a mafia murder. Two-bit gangster Jerry watches over Gino and gives him a weekend to remember.


David Mamet
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Don Ameche ... Gino
Joe Mantegna ... Jerry
Robert Prosky ... Joseph 'Don Giuseppe' Vincent
J.J. Johnston ... Frankie
Ricky Jay ... Mr. Silver
Mike Nussbaum ... Mr. Green
Jack Wallace ... Repair Shop Owner
Dan Conway ... Butler
Willo Hausman Willo Hausman ... Miss Bates (as Willo Varsi Hausman)
Gail Silver ... Housemaid
Len Hodera Len Hodera ... Ramone
Josh Conescu Josh Conescu ... Bellenza
Adam Bitterman ... Marcotti
Jack Merrill ... No Pair (as Merrill Holtzman)
William Novelli William Novelli ... Willie


Gino, an Italian-American shoe-shiner with a remarkable similarity to a certain mafia don, is paid to take the rap for a murder. Jerry, a two-bit gangster on probation, is given a chance for redemption by guarding Gino for the weekend. But instead of sitting around a dingy hotel room, Jerry decides to give Gino a weekend to remember, taking him to Lake Tahoe. Jerry's bragging to his friends of his important charge, as well as Gino's dignified, quiet demeanor, soon result in much complication for them both. Written by Mike Myers <mmyers@ucsd.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Two of the world's great criminal minds they're not. See more »


Comedy | Crime | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


According to an article in the 16th October 1988 edition of 'The New York Times', veteran actor Don Ameche was originally cast in a minor role as one of the Dons in the movie. However, after a meeting with lead actor Joe Mantegna and writer-director David Mamet, Mamet decided to cast Ameche in the other lead role of Gino. See more »


After they leave the airport, Jerry and Gino stop to talk with Billy Drake. Then Gino stays in front of the others, holding the overcoats, with Billy on his left-hand side and Jerry on his right. In the next shot Billy appears holding the overcoats and leading Gino with his right hand to the car. For this to be possible it would be necessary that them both had changed their places. See more »


Jerry: Just when things were going so well...
See more »


Referenced in Robot Ninja (1989) See more »

User Reviews

After reading the other comments
17 November 2006 | by rob-1748See all my reviews

Obviously, by my rating, you know I love this film. It is a desert island disc.

I read the other reviews and have some comments. These are not criticisms of others criticisms or accolades, just my own thoughts after having seen the movie so many times.

Having never been in the mafia myself (and I suspect that none of the other people rating this movie have been either), I find this work consistent with our cinematic understanding of the mafia. First of all, if the mafia does ask you for a favor which it thinks is fair sounding and you decline, depending upon the favor asked, security may demand that you be silenced (killed). Secondly, our cinematic understanding of the mafia also says that very few people, even in the mafia, truly know who, as it is put in the movie 'the man behind the man behind the man' might be. So, when the hotel staff and low level mafia flunkies (hooray for the blond WHM!) at the other end of the country, who are expecting to meet people they don't know, accept DA as someone very important, this is realistic. And with such a classic mafia stereotype as JM's character as front man, DA as shoe shine turned mafioso really sells. After all, DA is Italian and distinguished looking... as well as very old school. As for DA's new mafia friend, it is quite clear in the movie that the luck and skill of DA's character actually traversed some very high barriers to survive and flourish in the situation.

While the premise of the circumstance of the ending may be predictable (I don't want to give it away), the actual final actions and outcome are definitely not expected.

As for comparison to Mamet's other works, stage and screen, perhaps this isn't his "best." But in terms of appeal, it reaches many more people than most of his work... and in such a pleasing way without being daft. Entertainment and emotional appeal are not vices, even for Mamet.

And just because a movie makes you smile and laugh, that doesn't make it a comedy... merely comedic. This is a dark drama, a human study, and features friendship and betrayal. Perhaps the comedic and light-hearted aspects are merely the glue that holds this piece so well together. The glue may be on the surface, but that doesn't mean it doesn't function here. Frankly, I absolutely love House of Games, but a little more comedic treatment might have even improved that masterpiece. One can like Mamet and like smiling as well.

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English | Italian

Release Date:

21 October 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Things Change See more »

Filming Locations:

Lake Tahoe, California, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$600,809, 23 October 1988

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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