Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
USA, 1989. Lorimar Film Entertainment. Screenplay by Nora Ephron, Alice Arlen. Cinematography by Oliver Stapleton. Produced by Laurence Mark. Music by Thomas Newman. Production Design by Michael D. Haller. Costume Design by Albert Wolsky. Film Editing by Andrew Mondshein.
Emily Lloyd plays a funky, rebellious teenager whose antics on the streets of New York City get her in trouble, almost thrown in jail until a mysterious lawyer shows up out of nowhere at her trial. She learns that he works for her father (Peter Falk), a mafioso who has been absent for most of her life thanks to his being in prison, and now that he’s getting out wants her to work for him. She resists the opportunity as she has no interest in the man who had no part of her growing up, having kept a wife (Brenda Vaccaro) on one side of town while romancing Lloyd’s mother (Dianne Wiest) as his gangster moll on the other. After she eventually agrees, things get tricky when Falk’s plan to go straight is fouled up by a shady business partner, and the deals he needs to pull off to get himself out of trouble turn the FBI on his case. Featuring a colourful assortment of characters and spritely dialogue, this film’s having been directed by Susan Seidelman and written by Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen should have guaranteed a comedy hit if it stuck to the situation it sets up at the beginning. Cashing in on the delights of the two main characters at odds with each other is a promise abandoned when the plot incorrectly switches it focus to Falk and his cronies, there’s far too many scenes of old men gabbing with each other that don’t have the grandeur of The Godfather or the wit of Prizzi’s Honour. It feels as if the film’s edit was hijacked at the last minute and what the filmmakers originally wanted to make, focusing on the gals, was canceled by anxious studio executives to focus on boring old men. As a result, Lloyd’s plucky charm (which overcomes her poor attempt at a New Yawk accent) and Wiest’s humorous performance feel underused and what’s left is a rehash of other Peter Falk movies that never gets off the ground.