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Fall Time

There's material here for a film, at most, half the length of "Fall Time," a thoroughly pedestrian crime drama designed to illustrate the scarcely pulse-quickening proposition that teenage boys' notions of criminality are a far cry from the real thing. This reps yet another modestly budgeted Mickey Rourke indie effort that will be more at home on vid shelves than in theaters, where prospects are limited despite some name thesping talent.

With:
Florence ... Mickey Rourke Leon ... Stephen Baldwin Patty ... Sheryl Lee Tim ... Jason London David ... David Arquette Joe ... Jonah Blechman

There’s material here for a film, at most, half the length of “Fall Time,” a thoroughly pedestrian crime drama designed to illustrate the scarcely pulse-quickening proposition that teenage boys’ notions of criminality are a far cry from the real thing. This reps yet another modestly budgeted Mickey Rourke indie effort that will be more at home on vid shelves than in theaters, where prospects are limited despite some name thesping talent.

Just about all Steve Alden and Paul Skemp’s script has going for it is a promising premise: Three high schoolers decide to celebrate their graduation by pulling a prank sure to stir up the locals in small-town Minnesota, circa 1957. Two of the boys will pull up in front of the bank, “shoot” their waiting buddy with blanks, toss him into the trunk of their ’55 Caddy and speed off.

Problem is, an actual bank robbery is going down at the very moment the kids pull up. Instead of making off with their friend Tim (Jason London), David (David Arquette) and Joe (Jonah Blechman) abscond with Leon (Stephen Baldwin), the thuggish accomplice and lover of criminal mastermind Florence (Rourke), who, in turn, takes Tim hostage.

This setup is adequately, if unexcitingly, staged by first-time helmer Paul Warner. But the tale then descends into thoroughly unpleasant, dramatically attenuated territory as the two hoods separately tie up, beat, cut and otherwise torture the terrified teens. These extended sequences, even if not excessively gruesome, have no motivation on the gangsters’ part other than plain meanness, and their length drives home the point that the film is bereft of the kinds of clever twists and surprising plotting that can make the genre exciting.

Sporting shades and a flashy leather jacket, Rourke cloaks his villainy with down-home philosophical airs as a way of sculpting an amusingly offbeat bad guy. Baldwin, however, is quite overwrought, his character alternating between violent outbursts and pathetic expressions of vulnerability over whether the manipulative Florence really loves him. Gay angle, expressed in dialogue and via a little hand-holding, is not terribly convincing.

The teens are OK, with London evincing a degree of sensibility as the most educated of the group. Sheryl Lee’s character, bank clerk Patty, is kept too shadowy for any characterization to emerge.

Direction is straightforward, and tech contributions adequately achieve the popular ’50s look.

Fall Time

(Crime drama -- Color)

Production: A Live Entertainment presentation of a Bates Entertainment production. Produced by Edward Bates. Executive producer, Jay Cohen. Directed by Paul Warner. Screenplay, Steve Alden, Paul Skemp.

Crew: Camera (Foto-Kem color), Mark Gordon; editor, Steve Nevius; music, Hummie Mann; production design, Andrew Precht; art direction, Alison Sadler; set decoration, Paul E. Martin; sound (Ultra-Stereo), Mark Weingarten. Reviewed at Aidikoff screening room, Beverly Hills, Jan. 4, 1995. (In Sundance Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 88 min.

With: Florence ... Mickey Rourke Leon ... Stephen Baldwin Patty ... Sheryl Lee Tim ... Jason London David ... David Arquette Joe ... Jonah Blechman

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