Hollywood can be the most frustrating place on earth at times. For the last year the machinery of frustration has been working overtime. Finally though, finally we are soon going to be allowed a glimpse at a little gem weve been waiting for.
The unveiling was to be held nearly a year ago now. In their infinite wisdom, New Line Cinema decided to hold this jewel back and tease us a little longer. On A side note I agree with their reasoning, but well get to that later. Now where was I? Oh yes Long ago the writers of a little film about card playing and male bonding called Rounders promised their next project would be something to behold. Not only would they write the film this time, they would also lend their talents to directing. Suddenly in late 2001 the word came from on high that the film would be delayed. Rumors started swirling that they weren't going to do it. What was wrong with the film? Should the studio have let these two novices behind the reigns of a $13 million dollar film? Why was there a delay? And when lord, when would we get to see what these men hath wrought?! Okay maybe thats a bit dramatic, but still everyone wanted to know where Knockaround Guys had gone.
Writers Brian Koppelman & David Levien burst on to the Hollywood scene in 1998 with the Matt Damon/ Edward Norton cult classic Rounders. By many accounts this little film heralds a high point in the careers of both actors thus far. The film was a hit and immediately garnered the writing duo much attention from Hollywood. Knockaround Guys, the aforementioned next project was to be a small action/crime drama with an impressive ensemble cast of up and comers and "already theres".
The story is simple, as most good ones are. Matt Demaret, played by Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile), is the son of a big time mobster; Dennis Hopper (True Romance, Easy Rider) goes on a job for his old man to deliver a bag full of cash. Somehow along the way the money is stolen from him and he calls on his friends to help him out of a bind. It just so happens that his friends, played Seth Green, Andrew Davoli (Bringing Out the Dead), and newly minted star Vin Diesel , are also sons of major mobcrime bosses. Together the four of them take on the corrupt sheriff of a town in the mountains of Montana in an effort to get the money back and save Demaret from his own father. Obviously there is more to it than that, but I dont want to give everything away before it bows.
Did I mention that the movie also stars the incomparable John Malkovich? No? What about Dennis Hopper? Well, it does and thats just two more of a hundred reasons why this film is going to be great.
That of course begs the question why, if the movie is so great did it get put on a shelf in the dark and dusty closet of New Line for so long? Well my friends your intrepid movie reporter has done a little digging, a little reading, and a little guessing a come up with a pretty decent answer...$money$. This might have been the smart movie for Newline...
In mid to late 2001 New Line was given a finished Knockaround Guys and crammed themselves and their marketing staff into a room to check it out. Upon their escape they probably thought to themselves, Thats an awfully good movie for $13 million. I wonder how we can maneuver it so it makes 3 time that much in revenue? A brightly shining light bulb probably appeared over someones head about that time and they said, Praise the lord I have an idea (remember this is all my imagining of the process so it probably was much less entertaining). Everyone then spun around in anticipation as the person slowly began to speak, This movie has Vin Diesel in it right? And we are about to release XXX which is going to be HUGE. If we hold back THIS film until after Vin Diesel is a huge star then I bet well make a fortune! And then, in the heart of the New Line offices there was much rejoicing for they had developed a sound and true marketing strategy.
And for once, I agree with them (hey anything is possible). You see this film attests to being very good. All the trailers and media I have seen point to that fact. All the interviews with the people involved, including this one at CHUD with the writers, screams to me that Knockaround Guys is going to be one of those films that not only inspires, but should be a guilty pleasure for the anti-guys. The ones that are like the prize fighter that no one expects much from but that comes out and knocks the champ out in the first round. And a film like that deserves ever chance and little bit of edge it can get.
I also want to believe the hype that Vin Diesel is more than just another Stallone or Swartzenegger clone. Just a muscle bound lunkhead trying to act. Many people say the man can actually act. For my money XXX didnt prove that. Dont get me wrong, it was a good film, but not because of Diesels acting chops. Knockaround Guys could just be the film that once and for all proves to me the big Disel has the stuff to be called an actor and not just a movie star.
Until next time...~Bobby
Dont't forget to also check out: Knockaround Guys