It sounds like a good time. Jack (Ryan O’Callaghan), a clean-cut kid, needs money to pay for law school, so he borrows from Dennis (Aidan Redmond), an Irish gangster. Jack’s degenerate friend, Gino (Johnny Solo), talks him into doubling Dennis’ money by playing it at the racetrack. Of course, they lose the money and, for reparations, Dennis forces Jack to marry his mistress, who’s an immigrant on the verge of getting the intercontinental boot. Add to that the cars, wardrobe, and sound of the ‘70s, and the game is yours to lose.
79 Parts, directed by Ari Taub, loses. Watching the movie is like watching a cover band, but without the tongue-in-cheek qualities of an Elvis impersonator. It’s more like watching a cover band that’s wearing mop-top wigs and skinny ties—there’s something deeply wrong about the whole thing. It’s equal parts lazy and sacrilegious. From the beginning, 79 Parts employs freeze-frames and playful voiceover, with the latter being so lethargic, it sounds like the actors are talking in their sleep. It’s not as if anyone director has domain over a technique, but the straight-faced way that Taub uses such techniques that are clearly meant to evoke your dormant adoration for other movies is his way of dressing like the Beatles and playing half-assed covers. The movie even features an actual half-assed cover of “His Name was King,” which is from the spaghetti western of the same name and later repurposed for Django Unchained.
“…they lose the money and, for reparations, Dennis forces Jack to marry his mistress, who’s an immigrant on the verge of getting the intercontinental boot.”
In addition to the wasted outline, the movie managed to wrangle some notable names, such as Eric Roberts, Kathrine Narducci, and Sandra Bernhard. At first, this didn’t make sense, but a quick check of Roberts’ IMDB page, for what that’s worth, shows that he acted in 31 movies in 2018 and currently has 70 movies that have come out in 2019 or are scheduled for release.
While some snappy dialogue wouldn’t save the movie, its self-imposed swagger calls for it. The call is left unanswered, even if there are some brief moments of potential, such as with the immigration officers. One of them is a “live and let live” type, while the other is a hardliner who hates illegals almost as much as he hates hippies. You might not want to take that duo on the road, but that’s a solid setup for comedy as you need for a handful of scenes. Nonetheless, the stuff that’s written for them has no novelty or impulse to stand out. It comes off like the result of day-to-day drudgery, as opposed to the work of an inspired storyteller.
If you take pleasure in sordid crime stories, flamboyantly dangerous characters, and a time when car design favored style over safety, 79 Parts will disappoint you. The film plays all those cards but doesn’t have the creative capital to back up its bets. What’s more, it never finds its own identity, nor does it have the desire to.
79 Parts (1982) Directed by Ari Taub. Written by Mario Rodosta, Chuck McMahon, John Ramame. Starring Aidan Redmond, Ryan O’Callaghan, Johnny Solo, Daniela Mastropietro, Lisa Regina, Eric Roberts, Tony Lo Bianco, Kathrine Narducci, Sandra Bernhard.
3 out of 10 stars