Should you see this '80s mafia drama? Fugeddaboudit.
I have, yet another in what is amounting to be a heap of embarrassing confessions to make. I may have, at one time, harbored something of a crush on one Mr. Freddie Prinze Jr. And let's just say that at no point in time was I of an age for which that was ever fashionable.
But nonetheless, it is the truth and it stands. So, you might therefore conclude it would have been somewhat of a treat for me to see him in Brooklyn Rules, the new mafia drama by director Michael Corrente (Outside Providence). Sadly, you would be wrong. Oh, so very wrong.
Set against the backdrop of the real-life Gotti crime family drama that unfolded in New York during the 1980s, Brooklyn Rules follows three Italian Brooklyn-born friends--Michael (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), Carmine (Scott Caan), and Bobby (Jerry Ferrara). Each is unique unto himself. Carmine is an Italian stallion pretty-boy with Mafioso aspirations, Bobby is a nice, somewhat simple guy who wants nothing more than a steady job and a family, and hardworking Michael, despite his heart of a con-man, wants to leave his Brooklyn roots behind and become a lawyer worth of his preppy Connecticut girlfriend Ellen (Mena Suvari). But when the three get embroiled in some mafia doings with neighborhood crime boss Caesar (Alec Baldwin), no one's life may turn out the way he expected.
Brooklyn Rules is such an unqualified mess that it is difficult to find something positive to say about it. Mena Suvari (American Beauty, American Pie) has big '80s hair that I would have envied. That was good. Freddy Prinze, Jr. does a decent job and his Brooklyn accent sounds authentic. I liked that...
You'd think at least the script would be good. After all, screenwriter Terence Winter (Get Rich or Die Tryin') has written for The Sopranos, so surely this is a man knowledgeable in doing a good job with the genre. But no, it's a mess. The story ambles, you never really know what it is moving toward, it's totally bogged down in its love of the Italian Brooklyn '80s ambiance (so you get lots of useless scenes), and then you are treated to recurring heavy-handed narration in a failed attempt to make up for it.
The actors all do their best. Despite all his current personal troubles, Alec Baldwin has reinvented himself wonderfully as of late in his acting roles, and he is perfectly convnicing as the bloody, scary Caesar. But the story is just so weak and watered down that it doesn't matter.
I enjoy mob movies and would have loved to see a good dramatization of the crime family wars of the '80s. I am from Boston, after all. But Brooklyn Rules just does not deliver. Don't waste your time going to the theater for this one. If you need to get your mafia-fix on, pull out that old copy of GoodFellas and buy some cannoli instead.