You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Layin’ Low

Jerry Jeremy Piven Mrs. Muckler Louise Lasser Angie Edie Falco Christy Frank John Hughes Manuela Allana Ubach Augie Paul Sand Vince Lenny Venito Patty Paul Schulze

Jerry Jeremy Piven Mrs. Muckler Louise Lasser Angie Edie Falco Christy Frank John Hughes Manuela Allana Ubach Augie Paul Sand Vince Lenny Venito Patty Paul Schulze

The starting point of “Layin’ Low,” the first feature from New York helmer Danny Leiner, is a drug heist gone wrong, but this engaging, very funny pic is anything but just another post-Tarantino tough-guy gangster outing. Leiner, who also penned the witty script, keeps the laughs coming most of the way through and gets big-time help from a uniformly strong cast, led by Jeremy Piven as quintessential Brooklyn loser Jerry Muckler.

“Layin’ Low” will likely pique the interest of indie distribs willing to take on a project that will require careful marketing, and pic’s blend of street-wise comedy and small-time mobster shenanigans will likely click with audiences. The challenge will be to convince the public that this is not your garden-variety drug-dealers-and-hoodlums pic.

In spite of a couple of gun battles and the presence of various drug peddlers , “Layin’ Low” is actually a mostly affectionate portrait of a couple of blue-collar layabouts and their unlikely quest for love, friendship and a ticket out of their dead-end lives. But it’s the drugs that complicate matters.

Life is not looking too rosy for Jerry Muckler (Jeremy Piven). He’s 33, still living at home with his parents, has no serious g.f. in sight and nothing resembling a real job. His best friend, Christy (Frank John Hughes), is not faring much better gambling and trying to score with one far-fetched scam scheme after another.

One night, Jerry agrees to help his pal Patty (Paul Schulze) move and, on the way to the job, they stumble into a mob shootout. Jerry somehow ends up behind the wheel of the van with Patty bleeding to death right beside him and a suspicious bag sitting on the seat. When Jerry discovers that the satchel contains a load of high-priced dope, he freaks out and realizes he has to go into hiding.

Christy sets him up to stay with his old Aunt Rose, a killer card sharp who regularly fleeces her new houseguest during hard-fought games of gin rummy. Christy’s cousin Angie (Edie Falco) shows up at Aunt Rose’s one day and at first wants to turn Jerry out on the street. But they soon warm to each other.

Leiner shows no small skill in balancing the comic and dramatic elements here , and he pays special attention to the details, from the memorable secondary characters to witty throwaway quips. Piven somehow manages to make Jerry seem like an endearing loser who is clearly smarter than he lets on, and Hughes showcases a feverish quirkiness as Christy. In a rare bigscreen appearance, Louise Lasser is perfectly cast as Jerry’s highly neurotic mother.

Jim Denault’s lensing captures the flavor of the streets of Brooklyn and former Lounge Lizard Evan Lurie contributes a cool, sinuous jazzy score.

Layin' Low

Production: A Shooting Gallery production. Produced by Nina Shiffman. Executive producer, Larry Meistrich. Directed, written by Danny Leiner.

Crew: Camera (color), Jim Denault; editor, Michelle Boticelli; music, Evan Lurie; production designer, Steve Rosenzweig. Reviewed at Hamptons Film Festival, Oct. 18, 1996. Running time: 96 MIN.

More Film

  • Chris Hemsworth Hulk Hogan

    Chris Hemsworth to Play Hulk Hogan in Biopic for Netflix

    Netflix is in the early stages of developing a Hulk Hogan biopic with Chris Hemsworth attached to star as the wrestling legend and produce. Netflix has obtained the exclusive life rights and consulting services from Terry Gene Bollea AKA Hulk Hogan. Todd Phillips, whose credits include “War Dogs” and “The Hangover” trilogy, is attached to [...]

  • Rooftop Films Announces Filmmakers Fund Grant

    Rooftop Films Announces Filmmakers Fund Grant Winners

    Swedish documentary filmmaker Anastasia Kirillova and “Negative Space” co-directors Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter are among the filmmakers who will receive grants from Rooftop Films to help complete their upcoming projects. Kirilova will be awarded $20,000 to finish her film, “In the Shadows of Love,” while collaborators Kuwahata and Porter will receive $10,000 for “Dandelion [...]

  • Jim Gianopulos

    Paramount Chief Jim Gianopulos Unveils Diversity Initiative

    Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos has announced that all studio productions will be required to complete a plan to enhance diversity. Wednesday’s reveal follows Paramount’s commitment to participating in Time’s Up and Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s 4% Challenge. The name is derived from women having directed only 4% of the country’s top grossing movies [...]

  • Leave No Trace

    Oscar Analysts Are Sincere -- but Often Totally Wrong

    With Oscars arriving Feb. 24, we can expect multiple “who will win/who should win” columns. There will also be a flurry of post-show analyses about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and why members voted the way they did. Since AMPAS never releases polls or voting tallies, these pundits will never be contradicted [...]

  • Green Book spiderman into the spider

    On Eve of Oscars, Variety’s Film Experts Answer Three Pressing Questions

    We continue to live in a divided world, with the current political landscape in the United States a seemingly endless hotbed of tumult and acrimony. Issues of racism, bigotry, diversity and gender equality drive the creative players as well, with Oscar-nominated films parlaying said themes into compelling, thought-provoking cinema. To analyze 2018 in big-screen entertainment, [...]

  • Karl Lagerfeld'Lagerfeld Confidential' Photocall at the

    Karl Lagerfeld Remembered at Costume Designers Guild Awards

    The death of fashion and costume designer Karl Lagerfeld cast somewhat of a shadow over the usually jubilant Costume Designers Guild Awards — the only award show where clothes literally steal the spotlight away from actors — which was held at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday night. Here it was obvious that Lagerfeld’s impact on [...]

  • 'Captain Marvel' First Reactions: Early Reviews

    'Captain Marvel' First Reactions: 'The MCU Feels More Complete'

    “Captain Marvel” is soaring following advanced press screenings on Tuesday. Reactions from early showings have hit Twitter, and audiences are keen on Marvel’s first female-led standalone movie. Critics are praising Brie Larson’s performance as Carol Danvers, the nostalgic ’90s setting, and the cosmic sci-fi elements. Goose, Danvers’ cat, is also getting a lot of attention from [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content