8 Heads in a Duffel Bag (1997)
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I started watching this expecting to change channels quite quickly. I only gave it a chance at all because Joe Pesci was in it - which is never a bad asset for a film. What happened was I found myself smiling quite a lot, and then laughing quite a lot. Not uproariously or uncontrollably. But out loud, and more than once.
Pesci is good - but so is just about everyone else. And the script is wickedly funny too. It's much less predictable than most of its kind, There are twists which are genuinely surprising and interesting, and the film stays pretty fresh (even though in truth it's probably 20 minutes too long).
I'm quite a harsh marker, so a 6 from me is quite a compliment for a film like this. Well-written, nicely-paced, silly without being annoying, and containing some funny performances and a lot of good moments, you will like this one if you give it a chance.
Joe Pesci is a mobster who has two days to deliver 8 heads of other criminals to his boss. If he fails his head will be the next to be cut off. Of course on the airport his bag is switched with another one.
Not all the gags and jokes are good. There are some very predictable and embarrassing ones. Not only embarrassing for a great actor like Joe Pesci, but also for the guy who came up with them. However, there were some terrific ones as well, the best perhaps is the dream sequence. I'm not going to tell what happened, but it is really hilarious.
Overall I would call it an enjoyable movie when you are able to switch off your brain for once. I gave it a 6/10, which isn't bad for this kind of movies.
Joe Pesci is aggressively hateful and not in a funny way. Charlie is pathetic and the actor lacks charisma. Laurie is unlikeable. Nobody is likable. Also they are boring. The family slapstick is bland and weak. At least Pesci isn't boring. However the whole movie is unfunny.
But - wow - does terrible acting start to take over by the two leads, Andy Comeau and Kristy Swanson! No wonder these two never made it as film stars. The overacted so badly, it was embarrassing to watch. George Hamilton did a poor job, sounding very wooden.
Only Joe Pesci and Dyan Cannon gave any kind of acting performances in this dark comedy. Often, I love black comedies but this movie was just so poorly executed, so convoluted and overly mean-spirited, it was a waste of time. You want to just take a bath after watching (and listening to over 20 abuses of the Lord's name in vain) this and hope you forget the 90 minutes you just totally wasted. As mentioned, the best thing about the movie is the title.
A special mention to Dyan Cannon who has some of the choicest scenes and the best line of the whole movie.
A couple of gags came off well, including Pesci's dream sequence, which I'd have to say is ahead of its time. The rest would bored overactive children to sleep.
First of all the boy trying to be "Tom Hanks", sai that he cannot call the police over Mexico because there are no laws in Mexico and he would be fried. Later the girl has a brilliant idea of FEDEX 8 heads to USA, then the stupid guy said again that there's no FEDEX in Mexico. The guy that made the film doesn't even know about one of the biggest companies in USA... Later an American is arrested in Mexico and their Mexican lawyer said that he had good and bad news. The good one was that the American was over only mild torture???? The bad one is that he was sentenced to death??? Later after having their car stolen in Mexico the same stupid boy "finds" the car available for rent in a car rental store. One stupid ridiculous joke after another.
The people who worked on this film should ashamed on theirselves
As it turned out, I was right on only one count. Pesci is wonderful in 8 HEADS IN A DUFFEL BAG, playing his sadistic mobster shtick to the hilt. However, a little bit of Pesci goes a looooong way: halfway into the picture, I realized that his brand of dark comedy had seeped into every comic situation, rendering the movie a sordid mess.
I have nothing against dark comedy, but 8 HEADS IN A DUFFEL BAG doesn't so much push the envelope as rend it asunder. There is so much vulgarity and mean-spiritedness that I actually began to pity the characters, trapped as they were in their little 1950s sitcom universe from Hell.
Joe Pesci notwithstanding, every character in this movie is a loathsome stereotype. We have the naive young man, the squeamish girlfriend, the clueless father, the ditzy wife, the crotchety old grandma, etc. And let's not forget all those hot-blooded Italians and sneaky Mexicans.
There was one - only ONE - point where I really surrendered myself to gales of joyful laughter. It was the great comic set-piece wherein Pesci's mobster is asleep and dreams that the eight severed heads of the movie's title come to life and begin singing "Mr. Head Man" (to the tune of "Mr. Sandman") like seasoned recording artists. Then their headless bodies crash through the wall and begin to strangle our hero. I laughed my proverbial butt off at this surreal comic masterpiece. Then the scene ended - and I went back to being not amused again.
At the end of the movie, one of the characters tries to make up for nearly two hours of bleak vacuum by spouting a barrage of "head" puns ("Stop a-HEAD," "Anyone need to use the HEAD?", etc.) and other corny jokes, some of which were, admittedly, quite clever. But, as they say, it was too little, too late.
On a scale of 1-8 heads, I give 8 HEADS IN A DUFFEL BAG a small section off the smaller ear of the smallest head in Tommy Spinelli's bag.
And to complete the mediocre job, it contains insulting jokes about Mexico that would deserve my scorn if i'll ever think about this forgettable movie again. And I will not, for sure.
While all of this is happening, two more mob guys trail Tommy across the border. It seems that the headstrong crime boss is pretty head up waiting for his heads. Bennett's mother, a chain-smoking battle ax, shows up, too. The trouble with "8 Heads" is that Schulman spends too much time bringing Tommy and Charlie together. A good comedy of errors depends on nimble timing, witty humor, and a snappy story. "8 Heads" squanders too much time on plot filler and gets a little too mean-spirited, particularly when Tommy spews profanities galore. The confusion that guillotines the best laid plans of the heroes rarely elicits a laugh. Tommy looks like a headbanger who wandered in from a Martin Scorsese bloodbath.
You know you're in trouble at a comedy when the movie allots more time to the exposition than the gags. You know you're watching an empty-heded comedy when the movie characters resort to jokes about the film. You know the movie-makers are desperate when the resort to a dream sequence. They have the heads warble a tune in Tommy's dreams, while their headless bodies attack him. Pretty soon you notice, too, that the laughs get to be fewer and far between. When one of the characters suggests a better plan than what the writer gave to the star, you know you're in a bad movie. Charlie criticizes Tommy for not flying the heads out on a privately chartered jet. Sure, the heads would arrive intact, but there would be no comedy. Anyway, it shows what a numbskull Tommy is. You'd at least mark your bag if you were toting around severed body parts, right?
Compared with the wise guys that he impersonated in "Goodfellas" and "Casino," Pesci's errand boy Tommy is just plain cranky. He loves to smash phones and brandish his giant automatic pistol. Tommy makes a terrible hero because he's never sympathetic and he is much too stupid. Indeed, it is fun to see a couple of 1960s era stars like Cannon and Hamilton co-star in a 1990s film, but they're wasted in stereotypical supporting roles. Hamilton phones in most of his lines to his mother, trying to persuade her not to visit their motel. Spade sleepwalks through a role that demands very little of his enormously dry talent.
"8 Heads in a Duffel Bag" belongs to the corpse comedy genre. Even "Weekend at Bernie's 2" was one head and one body about this multi-cranical farce. Pesci fans will wonder why he gave his nod to this skullduggery.
Who really cares about plot - look at the title?? Were you expecting Schindler's List? I was roaring with laughter from start to finish. Joe Pesci was fantastic as the hitman. I loved the airplane scene hehe ("Sure make conversation, just do it in sign language"). The rest of the cast performed nicely as well. I particularly liked Dyan Cannon as the recovering alco. I laughed my head off when she found the head, same for when Kristy Swanson found them ("You got me a present!"). When the heads broke out into song ("Mr Sandman") I was laughing tears.
David Spade annoyed me but this minor flaw can be discarded by screaming "Up Your Ziggy with a WahWah brush" everytime he comes on screen - helped me relax!
Entertainment Scale: 8/ 10