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Knock Around Guys

Starring Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel, Seth Green with Dennis Hopper and John Malkovich
Written and Directed by Brian Koppelman and David Levien

IN SHORT: The next generation of mob movie. Part low rent Godfather. Part Three Stooges. [Rated R for violence, language and some drug use. minutes]

It used to be, and probably still is in a lot of places, a father's day to burst with pride when his son followed in the family business. We'll ignore the fact that the traditional "and Sons" sign is now more than likely to read "and Daughter" as well, because there aren't any daughters to worry about in Knockaround Guys.

Then again, when little Matty Demaret was offered his chance to "become a man," he failed to whack his way into his daddy's good graces and found himself, as with all of his friends, condemned to a life as a "regular" guy. To be less obscure, Daddy is nicknamed Benny Chains (Dennis Hopper, click for StarTalk), and runs the mob in Brooklyn. Benny is, to say the least, disappointed in his pride and joy who has "half the brain of an idiot. And that's the good half!" Serving as a replacement father figure is Uncle Teddy (John Malkovich), who puts in a good word now and then for the boy and his compadres. These elder mobsters are the true "knockaround guys" in that, if you don't pay up, they're the guys who order you knocked around.

Matty (Barry Pepper) and his crew aren't happy with unglamourous, non-mobster lives. Chris Scarpa (Andrew Davoli) isn't looking forward to running his dad's restaurant, though giving away free meals gets him in good with the ladies; Johnny Marbles (Seth Green) is a pilot who swears that his days of flying snowblind, meaning coked out of his skull, are long behind him; Taylor (Vin Diesel) is, strangely enough, the sole member of this quartet who is perfectly suited for life as mob muscle. The only problem is, he's Jewish, which keeps him out of the Mob book of life. [Taylor hasn't had a lot of training -- his mom's of the Tribe, which by our laws makes him 100 percent Hebrew. It also means he shouldn't be marked with the massive Star of David tattoo on his arm but hey, on Diesel it looks good ...]

With enough begging and pleading and a good word from Uncle Teddy, dad relents and gives Matty and Co. a very simple transportation gig to do. Marbles is to fly to the coast, pick up a bag -- filled with half a million dollars, cash -- and bring it back. Pretty simple, right? Something any yutz with a low profile and a private plane can do easily, right?

Oh, Seth Green is so perfectly cast as Marbles, you know he's going to screw it up. So here come the rest of the knockaround guy-wanabees, heading for a backwater town in the backwaters of the State of Wyoming -- a State whose residents are quaking in its boots. Not. Our Three (more) Yutzes from Brooklyn have twenty four hours to figure out where the bag went to, and get it back. Failing that, the real made men will come to town and seriously prove why they're called "knock around" guys.

Bloody. Fun. Bloody fun. And a dead pan Malkovich to boot.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Knockaround Guys, he would have paid . . .


Never forget, especially as we move closer to the end of the year, that movies are for entertainment and "films" (at least most of the time at this time of the year) have pretentions of Oscar. Knockaround Guys is a strictly for entertainment movie with a capital M and we enjoyed it a lot.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.