Cult director's comedy-drama with Denis Leary as a messed-up cop
DIRECTED BY Tom DiCillo
STARRING Denis Leary, Elizabeth Hurley, Steve Buscemi
Opens July 18, Cert 15, 91 mins
It’s endured a troubled path to UK release, but within minutes of the opening you’re reminded why DiCillo’s unique blend of acid humour and wry pathos has been sorely missed since ’97’s The Real Blonde. He makes satire sting and romance rock. Some will say Hurley’s clunky acting holds the humour down like a ball and chain, but Leary and Buscemi fully understand DiCillo’s tightrope walking, and keep both the story and the asides nimble. Leary’s good bad cop is a credible, flawed anti-hero who deserves a better fate, and finds it.
NY detective Ray Pluto (Leary), recently widowed, is a loner with chronic back pain. When he fails to prevent a hold-up in a burger bar (instead, a little kid saves the day), the papers dub him “Loser Cop”. Only his partner Jerry (Buscemi) stands by him, veiling mixed emotions of his own. Ray withdraws from life, lying on his couch with a spliff and a bunch of cheerleader videos for company. Eventually persuaded by Jerry to visit a chiropractor, Ray engages with the world again upon finding she’s the attractive doctor Ann Beamer (Hurley). A comically steamy affair ensues, but while Ray thus has his eye off the ball, his friend and neighbour (Luis Guzman) is nearly killed. “Neighbour Stabbed While Loser Cop Sleeps” chortle the Manhattan media. Ray pursues the case in a last fling at regaining his self-respect.
This being DiCillo, there are numerous twists and kinks. Jerry confesses to Ray that he thinks he has a nice ass. “Uh… well, everybody’s gay to some extent,” mutters Ray, kindly. “Hey, I’m not!” shrieks Jerry. Leary and Buscemi work wonders with this. In another apartment in Ray’s block, two wannabe screenwriters are working through their “ultra-megarealist” script, which, echoing Living In Oblivion, comments on, and intertwines with, the main action. “We should call it ‘Suck The Monkey’,” chimes one, “that’s so in-your-face.” “Whoa, yo, bro, no!” protests his buddy. Hurley throws food at smokers in restaurants; Leary’s embarrassed-to-be-with-her-even-though-she’s-hot cringe is a sight to behold.
“I wanted to make an adult movie that you could enjoy without a lobotomy,” DiCillo’s said.
Your brain will laugh its socks off. Very splendid.