ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  b koppelman, d levien

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  action

LENGTH  -  95 minutes

RELEASED  -  11 october 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  miramax

OFFICIAL SITE  -  knockaround guys

knockaround guys - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from knockaround guys at

buy the dvd from knockaround guys at

the wannabe sons of mobsters go to a remote town in the midwest, and get themselves into more trouble than anyone could anticipate.

this film came out over a year and a half after the studio intended to release it.


picture from knockaround guys

picture from knockaround guys

picture from knockaround guys


one out of four possible stars

Knockaround Guys has had a hell of a ride to the box office and due to various Hollywood machinations, this film was originally to be released in January of 2001, but got bumped several times down the calendar until it landed in October of 2002. On a very crowded weekend. The small audiences who flock to this film may or may not be disappointed, depending on whether they are fans of these actors and are willing to forgive them for their mistakes. Agreeing to roles in Knockaround Guys won't be the trampoline any of these actors needs to make it to the next level. While Vin Diesel has already had a faster ride to the top than any of the actors of his generation, Guys won't help to cement his fame.

At the core of the problem of this movie is the fact that it has no sense of humor. Or, rather, that sense of humor is very much misplaced. While viewing this film, the audience will tend to laugh at all the wrong places, while the intended humor goes by untouched. This film hovers in the middle somewhere, never really becoming a comedy, but never seeming dramatic enough to take seriously. While the leading actors are dressed in spectacular duds, their attitudes in their portrayals as the wannabe sons of Brooklyn mobsters just strike the wrong chord. The ironic thing is that none of the actors is a "bad" actor. All four of the headliners give credible performances.

And it is interesting that Barry Pepper was listed at the top of the marquee, since his star is still rising, and Vin Diesel's name, which was listed second, is alone certain to bring in ticket buyers. But, in defense to Pepper's recent career, and aside from the fact that he was involved in Battleship Earth, he still is a strong force in the movie, even if his biceps aren't half the size of Diesel's. He certainly pulls off the tortured son routine well and even if his dialogue is cliché many times, he still delivers it convincingly. And that applies to almost the entire cast. Seth Green does serious well and Andrew Davoli makes an good impression in his role. His name should have been put on the movie poster as well.

Every actor delivers his lines with what appears to be genuine emotion and it is evident that each made a worthy attempt. The performances are probably better than the film deserves. The only strange appearance in the film belongs to John Malkovich, who looks and acts as Italian as the Queen of England. It's almost entertaining waiting for the next word to come out of his mouth. In normal situations (i.e., when he's not playing a gangster), Malkovich has a weird English slant to his speech, so hearing him try to pull off a Brooklyn whine is quite the thing. His performance is fine, but his speech just makes one shake his head. Where was the dialogue coach? Dennis Hopper certainly did not have any trouble with the dialogue.

But whether the performances pass muster doesn't always matter during this film, because the dialogue is more of a copy of too many mobster films that have come before it, rather than an homage to that genre. While it is fine to emulate a good movie, it is quite another to make a poor copy of a genre that has had so many successful films to its credit. The public has been fascinated with mobsters since before the first Thompson sub-machine gun roared across the screen. But there is little fascination to be had with these characters. None are particularly likeable and none seem to be that intelligent. They are neither charming nor interesting, though these deficiencies probably have more to do with the screenplay than the acting.

A part of the screenplay which is especially depressing is the horribly violent third act. For the first seventy-five or eighty minutes of the film (nearly all of it), the movie has some violence (mostly punches being thrown), but in those last minutes, all the safety's come off and a lot of bullets are used. The sequences with all the gunfire just seem to come out of nowhere. It is much more bloody than a standard meet-at-dawn shoot 'em up in a Western, for example. It's like the filmmakers added in this unneeded "twist" to the film just so the audience might have something to talk about at the end of the film.

Which is one of the only things that can be recommended about this movie. The film is thankfully a short ninety minutes long, so the audience won't have much time to form an opinion on this strange mobster mis-fire. Though it does have an unsatisfying ending that seems to cut the film's nose off to spite its face. (Just imagine that a film has a face.) If the audience is to have any sympathy for this wretched lot of people, the ending needs to wrap up the movie somewhat. But it doesn't. Knockaround Guys puts a lot of testosterone on the screen but gives the audience more confusion than anything else.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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