Guilty Pleasures that we enjoyed â€“ even though we donâ€™t quite know why.
Movie Title : Mobsters
Starring Christian Slater, Richard Grieco, Costas Mandylor, Patrick Dempsey
Directed By Michael Karbelnikoff
What is it? : A film Iâ€™m still unsure I should be including here â€“ if only because itâ€™s probably the poorest of the films weâ€™ve included under the â€˜So bad itâ€™s goodâ€™ header. But weâ€™ll get to that later â€“ all that matters is that I have decided to include it.
Michael Karbelnikoff directs this MTV-generation take on the younger years of legendary gangsters Meyer Lansky (Patrick Dempsey â€“ then a male thinner, pale version of his â€œGreyâ€™s Anatomyâ€ self), Lucky Luciano (played by a smug Christian Slater), Bugsy Siegel (the brawny Richard Grieco â€“ then hot off the success of â€œBookerâ€) and Frank Costello (hot newcomer Costas Mandylor) as they rise up through the business, seek revenge on the mob bosses who made their families suffer, and flirt with go-go dancers.
Whatâ€™s wrong with it? : If I say â€œIt makes The Godfather Part III look like The Godfather Part IIâ€ does that help paint the picture? Those behind the early 90s effort â€œMobstersâ€ werenâ€™t so concern about historical accuracy, casting the right people for the roles, or as they were getting mass coverage in the teenage magazines of the time. Taking a cue from â€œYoung Gunsâ€, where a bunch of Brat Packers stepped in to play legendary outlaw Billy the Kid and his team of rascally rebels, Paramount cast four hot young actors at the time in the roles of real-life gangsters Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel and Frank Costello. At any other time, Patrick Dempsey, Richard Grieco, Christian Slater and Costas Mandylor would not be considered for such a movie â€“ if only because none of them match the nationalities of the characters theyâ€™re playing! (Slaterâ€™s accent is laughable at times!) and none of them have the fire or skill that say someone like a De Niro or Pacino had in their gangster movies. These guys are there to look pretty, not act â€“ and even if they were, do any of them have anything more in their bag of tricks than the ability to look slightly miffed at each other?
But even then, the casting director couldâ€™ve cast appropriate supporting players in the lesser roles of the villains â€“ and didnâ€™t. Instead, he/she (I canâ€™t be fagged looking his/her name up) cast British actor Michael Gambon (â€˜Dumbledoreâ€™ from â€œHarry Potterâ€) as a Sicilian gangster! What in sweet Jesus were they thinking?!
As for the film itself, it resembles something you might otherwise see played out as a skit on â€œSaturday Night Liveâ€ or something someone informs you about only to evoke the response â€œAre you serious? Those four guys as mobsters? Is that a joke?â€. Itâ€™s a corny gangster movie, probably filmed on the backcloth of Paramount (looked like it anyway), with woeful lines and trashy sub-plots (the whole Slater/Lara Flynn Boyle pool-table diddle shouldnâ€™t be in the movie â€“ but more so, some wacky Zalman King-produced soft porn flick). It doesnâ€™t so much take itâ€™s cue from the old gangster films of the 30s, as it does whatever music clips have featured a gangster theme in the past.
Yep, if wasnâ€™t billed as an action/dramaâ€¦ Blockbuster wouldâ€™ve definitely put the VHS in the comedy section.
Whatâ€™s right about it? Its so silly, and so totally Hollywood, that you canâ€™t help but like it. Some of the action sequences are also pretty fun â€“ Gambonâ€™s death scene is especially entertaining (and unintentionally funny).
And even though the lead foursome do so much as give performances as they do â€˜poseâ€™, they do look good in their parts â€“ especially Slater and Grieco who look right at home in their 30s garb. And though most of the cast were totally miscast, Chris Penn, playing one of the heavyâ€™s, er, guys, is quite good. You actually like this guy â€“ even though heâ€™s later revealed to be a traitor â€“ and give a shit when they decide he has to go down.
This is one of those movies that if youâ€™re channel-flipping one night and come across youâ€™re sucked into immediately â€“ glossy Hollywood fluff that lobotomizes the legacy of the four main gangsters but does it in style.
Why is it so bad itâ€™s good? : Did I mention Michael Gambon plays a Sicilian Gangster and Christian Slater plays Lucky Luciano?
- CLINT MORRIS