I was over at a friend’s house the other day, and we decided to watch a movie together. She has a fairly extensive collection of DVDs, so we just picked one off the shelf. We decided on Brooklyn Rules, (a film I’d never even heard of before) because she hadn’t seen it yet. The movie stars Alec Baldwin, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Scott Caan, and Jerry Ferrara, so I figured it would be pretty decent. Wrong, wrong, wrong!
Plot summary (with possible spoilers): The film opens with a flashback to 1974 Brooklyn that shows the three main characters, Michael (Prinze Jr.), Carmine (Caan), and Bobby (Ferrara) as young boys at a Catholic school. Michael is the narrator of the film, so we hear him telling us that he, Camine, and Bobby have been best friends ever since they can remember. Michael goes on to tell us their most dominant character traits — Camine’s vain, Bobby’s a cheapskate, Michael’s a scammer — but implies that they were all good kids at heart.
The next thing we know, the movie flashes forward to 1985. Michael is now at Columbia with dreams of going to law school; Bobby wants to marry his longtime girlfriend and get a job at the post office; and Carmine hopes to get involved with the local mob crew, run by a vicious man named Caesar Manganaro (Baldwin). Michael, thinking this is a bad idea, encourages Carmine to get a real job, but Carmine is attracted by the power, money, and respect he would command as a member of Caesar’s gang.
One night, while Michael, Carmine, and Bobby are at a diner with their girlfriends, they have a nasty run-in with Gino (Christian Maelen), a thug from another crew. Gino gets shown up by Michael in the fight, and vows revenge, but after a sit-down meeting with Caesar and Gino’s boss, Gino and Michael are told to drop it and forget any thoughts of a rematch.
Things are stable in the neighborhood until Caesar gets gunned down in broad daylight. After that, all bets are off, and Gino comes after Michael and his friends. One night, he runs into them while they’re at a bar celebrating Bobby’s engagement, and follows Michael and Bobby when they leave. As Michael stops the car in front of a Virgin Mary statue so Bobby can say a prayer, Gino comes by and shoots into the passenger side window, thinking Michael was sitting there. He hits Bobby instead, killing him.
A few days later, Michael and Carmine get their revenge on Gino. After that, Michael moves to California to attend law school there, while Carmine stays in Brooklyn. They meet up again years later for Carmine’s wedding, and it seems that neither of them are any the worse for their experience.
My Reaction: I usually like gangster flicks, even the lightweight ones like Brooklyn Rules. But for some reason, I just couldn’t get into this particular film. I think the biggest problem for me was the fact that Freddie Prinze, Jr. was in it. I don’t mind the guy in general, but felt that he was all wrong for the lead role here. His acting was terrible, and his attempt at a Brooklyn accent was even worse. He took me out of the mood of the film whenever he was on screen — which was a lot.
I also thought Scott Caan detracted from this film. I don’t know if it’s the actor himself or just the character that he played, but I found that I couldn’t stand him at all. Maybe it’s the fact that he looks so short and squat in comparison to Prinze Jr…. there’s just something weird about him that really comes out when he has a bigger role than, say, when he plays a bit part like in the Ocean’s 11 series. Yes, I realize I’m hanging out in the shallow end of the pool today, but whatever!
Besides the bad acting, I thought the storyline was completely predictable from beginning to end. The film moved along at a fairly decent clip, which was a good thing, but there were zero twists or surprises in the script, so the whole thing was basically a snoozefest.
Overall, I was disappointed with Brooklyn Rules. I wasn’t expecting Goodfellas, of course, but was hoping for something mildly entertaining. I didn’t find it here, so I give this film just 2 stars out of 5.