Don McKay Reviews
Goldberger gets a few good tonal feints in, especially when he consults the Coen recipe book for the disorienting effect of blood (and bloody violence) on American simple folk.
When you pack your movie with performers like Mr. Church, Ms. Leo, Mr. Rebhorn and Keith David (as Dona(TM)s old friend), all with faces and deliveries that can slide easily between comedy and menace, youa(TM)re holding a full house.
Goldberger makes the most of his eclectic, multi-Oscar-nominated cast to make up for the lack of scope and visual panache, not to mention the sometimes strained machinations of his plot
The tone and the pacing always seem a little off and as a result, we become all too aware of mechanics of the screenplay grinding along towards a finale that is simply too complicated and unbelievable for its own good.
Clearly Goldberger thinks he can juggle this delicate noirish souffle but it all comes crashing down around him because the true nature of his characters' actions just don't make a whole lot of sense.
[Director] Greenberg's tyro script is both dark comedy and slick whodunit and all the players do it justice. He handles his material and fine cast with a deft hand that belies his freshman status.
Savvy viewers aren't likely to get too invested in these characters and their dilemmas, if only because the style of this parody of wish fulfillment will tip most of them off about the plot's misrepresentations in advance
...doesn't have the most tightly written script, but off kilter performances, particularly a hilariously determined Elisabeth Shue as the femme fatale Sonny...keep things bubbling along as the plot rolls to a boil over.
Thomas Haden Church wears a puzzled scowl throughout this bizarre film noir, and so will viewers as they struggle to figure out just what Jake Goldberger is going for.