Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Day Ninety-three - Under New Management, "Low Rent Wiseguy Romance? Meh."

There seem to be two basic ways to make gangster movies: go as dramatic as you can and make a serious piece that traverses the ups and downs of The Life (The Godfather, Traffic) or make a weird sort of redeeming comedy where Dons are laughably flawed and everything's a joke to contrast with the murder and mayhem (Analyze This, Gun Shy).

Under New Management is definitely the latter.

Set in Brooklyn with a neighborhood gang of made men who are on their last legs, crime-wise, UNM takes the premise of the squeeky-clean adopted son of the group, who never new his uncle and his friends were mafiosi, and making said pretty boy the new Don with the aim of taking the two-bit hoods and turning them legit.

Of course, they have to make serious bank to peaceably retire from "the Five Families" without getting ventilated, and the FBI has a suitably attractive female agent  (and a not-so-attractive, bumbling, male agent) trying to take the newcomer and his crew down while doing her best not to fall in love with the pretty boy, but such is the way things go in comedic gangster films.

Or so the movie expects us to believe.

The film is patently ridiculous. You never, ever get the feeling that anyone in a black hat is really a criminal... just guys in a community theatre troop acting out mob characters. It's all plastic and fake. Never once do I feel real menace from these guys. They're just a mostly pudgy collection of stereotypes.

The same can be said for the hot, Irish-Catholic lady cop. Her entire claim to heritage is a referance to a Claddagh ring and a Gaelic catchphrase that becomes a key sticking point for her relationship with the would-be Don... and said phase is both stupidly awkward and overused. Their courtship is puerile and formulaic, they have nothing that really challenges them, together or apart, and their resolution is stupid. Seriously, it plays like the writer had lost anything to say so he just repeated earlier jokes and faded out on an instant, unexplainable resolution.

And, that's pretty much how I could describe the rest of the movie.

The side characters, the overall plot, the crisis... all low rent and boring. Attempts are made to have plot points and characters show up for important bits later, but they're all paint by numbers and forced.

Production-wise... at best, the cinematography is on par with a cable procedural and the editing is even far below that. The locations are overused and ill-suited. It is very obvious how tiny a budget this production had and they use it without any gusto.

Under New Management isn't the worst film I've seen all year, but I certainly cannot recommend it to anyone. If it manages to make its way onto your queue, I recommend dropping it as soon as possible.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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