This low-budget indie plays like "GoodFellas" written by Damon Runyon. Comedy about Boston-area small time hoods who bumble through life has some rough edges, but enough strengths to warrant regional playoff. (It premieres May 8 in the director's hometown of Belmont, Mass.) Good tech qualities and the presence of recognizable character actors like Richard Romanus ("Mean Streets") and Frank Sivero ("GoodFellas") will help in cable and homevid.

This low-budget indie plays like “GoodFellas” written by Damon Runyon. Comedy about Boston-area small time hoods who bumble through life has some rough edges, but enough strengths to warrant regional playoff. (It premieres May 8 in the director’s hometown of Belmont, Mass.) Good tech qualities and the presence of recognizable character actors like Richard Romanus (“Mean Streets”) and Frank Sivero (“GoodFellas”) will help in cable and homevid.

Charlie (Romanus) is a middle-aged bookie and hustler still waiting for the big score: His latest inspiration is the “Surveillance Channel,” a cable outlet that would spy on people via hidden cameras. When his wife (Terry Donohoe) demands a new rug to replace one ruined by the painters, he hires his buddy Tommy (Sivero) to steal it.

Unfortunately, Tommy is caught after having already spent the money, and an angry Charlie engages his cousin Louie (Richard Donelly) to kill Tommy. That’s where the complications start to pile up, since Charlie is counting on Louie “the Klutz” to botch the job. Tommy dies (we know this from the opening narration when he tells us as much) but it’s not from anything Louie did, and Charlie becomes the lead suspect. Ending has a happy spin for everyone, including Tommy, who has become a guardian angel to his old friends.

The screenplay, by first-time filmmaker Roger Saquet (who also plays a brief scene as “the Godfather”), probably could have gone through a few more drafts. There are some down spots, which are not helped by his uneven pacing as director; pic’s farcical elements needed to play a lot faster.

However, tech aspects have a pro look. Lenser Jeri Sopanen occasionally overlights the interiors, but does bravura work in a black-and-white boxing sequence.

Urban Relics

(GANGSTER COMEDY)

Production

A Cheapshot Prods. presentation. Produced by Roger Saquet, William Clack, Julie Campbell. Executive producer, Joanne Saquet. Directed, written by Roger Saquet.

Crew

Camera (DuArt color, Metropolis Film Lab prints), Jeri Sopanen; editor, Frank Galvin; production designer, Mark Hartshorn; art director, Jeff Davey; costume designer, Amanda Johnson; music coordinator, John Enghauser; sound, Jesse Swayze; assistant directors, Raymond Todd, Pip Gilmour, Kelly Lawman. Reviewed at the West Newton Cinema, West Newton , Mass., April 30, 1998. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Charlie ..... Richard Romanus Tommy ..... Frank Sivero Louie ..... Richard Donelly Nikki ..... Terry Donohoe Willy ..... Tony V Ginger ..... Shelly Stasack Reilly ..... Marina Re Leslie ..... Denise Cormier Cynthia ..... Anne Spenser Mikey ..... Tom DeLuca

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