×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Brooklyn Rules

If God didn't want us to watch mob movies, He wouldn't have given us Brooklyn Italians -- or so one gathers from "Brooklyn Rules," a sometimes funny, occasionally maudlin coming-of-age dramedy that wants to be "Goodfellas" but might have been called "Mild in the Streets." Coming-of-age pic could boost the careers of Scott Caan, Mena Suvari and "Entourage's" Jerry Ferrara, while doing less for Freddie Prinze Jr. or any aud anticipating a fresh twist on a cheese-encrusted genre.

With:
Michael Turner - Freddie Prinze Jr. Carmine Mancuso - Scott Caan Bobby Canzoneri - Jerry Ferrara Caesar Manganaro - Alec Baldwin Ellen - Mena Suvari

If God didn’t want us to watch mob movies, He wouldn’t have given us Brooklyn Italians — or so one gathers from “Brooklyn Rules,” a sometimes funny, occasionally maudlin coming-of-age dramedy that wants to be “Goodfellas” but might have been called “Mild in the Streets.” Coming-of-age pic could boost the careers of Scott Caan, Mena Suvari and “Entourage’s” Jerry Ferrara, while doing less for Freddie Prinze Jr. or any aud anticipating a fresh twist on a cheese-encrusted genre.

Writer Terence Winter (“The Sopranos,” “Get Rich or Die Tryin’ “) is a Brooklyn native, but the tone of the film is alien: The way the characters speak and live on Winter’s not-so-mean-streets has more to do with other movies than outer boroughs. “I learned to live by a different set of rules,” says narrates Michael Turner (Prinze) — rules that apparently prepared him for the prelaw program at Columbia U. and, eventually, a romance with the waspy Ellen (Suvari).

Except for the occasional run-in with neighborhood wiseguy Caesar Manganaro (Alec Baldwin) — the type of businessman who discourages a rival by cutting off his ear in a meat slicer — there’s very little in the life of Michael or his pals Bobby (Ferrara) and Carmine (Caan) that suggests struggle, poverty, crime or anything but an easy middle-class existence.

Helmer Michael Corrente, who covered budding gangsterhood to far better effect in his debut “Federal Hill,” doesn’t have a lot to work with in Winter’s script, which spends pages reaching places a few well-played scenes could get to with half the effort. Apparently, the story is based on the real-life experience of Winter and his two best friends, who led a far more pedestrian existence than the one portrayed in the film.

Pic probably would have been better without the forced criminal elements: In one scene, the characters’ younger selves find a man in a car with a bullet hole in his head. They don’t panic or tell anyone; they simply take his cigarettes, his gun and his dog before moving on. Since the viewer has no reason to think the characters are this jaded to murder, they come off as very strange children.

But perhaps that’s why Carmine is so fascinated with mob life and wants to step into Caesar’s Gucci loafers, a career path that invariably affects his pals and their plans. Bobby wants to marry and work for the post office. Michael wants to break free of Brooklyn by maneuvering through the Ivy League in Brooks Brothers crewnecks. How they get where they’re going, or don’t, is the crux of the story.

The performances are the reason to watch “Brooklyn Rules,” although they are markedly uneven. Caan, who specializes in strutting punks (see the current “Lonely Hearts”), has another on his hands in Carmine, but the actor also reveals an emotional depth not previously seen. Ferrara is also convincing, and charming, as the supposed cheapskate Bobby; and Baldwin proves, once again, how he controls the screen whenever he’s on it.

Suvari, who might have played Ellen as a cliche, gives a real performance. Prinze, though, is simply miscast, and fits into this story about as well as Michael does at Columbia.

Richard P. Crudo’s shooting is first-rate, as, generally, are the production values.

Brooklyn Rules

Production: A City Lights Pictures release of an Eagle Beach Prods., Straight Up Films presentation in association with Southpaw Entertainment and Cataland Films. (International sales: Arclight Films, Los Angeles.) Produced by Michael Corrente, Marisa Polvino, Richard B. Lewis. Executive producers, Billy Heinzerling, Steven Bowman, Stewart F. Lane, Bonnie Comley, Rachel Rothman, Gemelli Entertainment, Darren Manelski, Terence Winter, Akiva Goldsman. Co-producer, Richard Perello. Directed by Michael Corrente. Screenplay, Terence Winter.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor), Richard P. Crudo; editor, Kate Sanford; music, Benny Rietveld; music supervisors, Peter Afterman, Margaret Yen; production designer, Bob Shaw; art director, Mario R. Ventenilla; set decorator, Jackie Jacobson-Scarfo; costume designer, Juliet Polsca; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS), Allan Byer, Tod A. Maitland, Antonio L. Arroyo; supervising sound editor, Tony Martinez; visual effects, Soho VFX; stunt coordinators, Peter Bucossi, Mike Russo; associate producers, Julie Bertrand, Chloe O'Connor; assistant director, Timothy Bird; casting, Amanda Mackey, Cathy Sandrich Gelfond, Sig de Miguel, Wendy Weidman. Reviewed at Wilshire screening room, Beverly Hills, May 9, 2007. (Also in Cannes Film Festival -- market.) MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 99 MIN.

Cast: Michael Turner - Freddie Prinze Jr. Carmine Mancuso - Scott Caan Bobby Canzoneri - Jerry Ferrara Caesar Manganaro - Alec Baldwin Ellen - Mena Suvari

More Scene

  • Dan Stevens

    'Legion' Star Dan Stevens Says His Character Would Fight Thanos, 'Wreak Havoc' in MCU

    Dan Stevens said his powerful, telepathic mutant Legion would do some serious damage if he ever crossed over from the eponymous FX series into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Legion would wreak havoc. He’d probably take on Thanos, let’s see that,” he told Variety on the red carpet at the premiere of the trippy, mind-bending superhero series [...]

  • Anthony Anderson LADF

    Why Anthony Anderson and Billie Jean King are Giving Back with the Dodgers Foundation

    Celebrities and athletes came together at the Dodgers Foundation Blue Diamond Gala to celebrate the team’s commitment to supporting youth and to catch a glimpse of the event’s headliner: Bruno Mars. Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss were honored at the fifth annual event, which raised over $3 million for programs benefiting Los Angeles youth. [...]

  • Shia LaBeouf poses at the premiere

    Shia LaBeouf to Host Birthday Fundraiser for Slauson Rec. Theater Company

    Shia LaBeouf is celebrating his 33rd birthday by giving back. The actor, who turned 33 on June 11, will host a fundraising concert later this month for the Slauson Rec Theater Company, a 10-month-old free performing arts program he co-founded in downtown Los Angeles. The night will also include a preview of the Slauson Rec [...]

  • Awkwafina, Lulu Wang Celebrate New York

    Awkwafina Wants 'The Farewell' to Break Boundaries of Cultural Differences

    Family dysfunction is universal despite cultural differences. That’s what writer and director Lulu Wang wants audiences to take away from her film “The Farewell” starring Awkwafina. “This movie will teach us universality out of specificity. There’s something that we can all kind of relate to across cultures. There’s something we still have to learn about [...]

  • Elizabeth Debicki

    Elizabeth Debicki Talks About Being Supported by Other Women in Hollywood

    Elizabeth Debicki is looking to the future — which makes sense, since she was named Women in Film and Max Mara’s “Face of the Future” for 2019. “No pressure,” Debicki laughed when Variety asked the actress about the honor on the red carpet. “It means a great deal. I have always deeply respected the work [...]

  • Carla Gugino Jett

    How Carla Gugino Is Redefining the Anti-Hero in Cinemax's Crime Drama 'Jett'

    “This is like no character I’ve ever played,” Carla Gugino told Variety on the red carpet at the premiere of Cinemax’s “Jett” on Tuesday night. “I think television is filled with great roles for women, which is such a godsend these days. But the anti-hero — there’s still a double standard there.” In the new series, Gugino [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content