Hapless schlep Tommy Kilgore (Mike Dennis) is in way over his head. As if a humiliating “This has never happened to me before” one-night stand, running out of gas on the way to work, and getting fired as a result of it weren’t enough, Tommy owes his bookie a hefty sum. $10,237 to be exact. Even though Tommy’s bookie also happens to be his crusty Uncle Joe (Perry Samuels), and even though Uncle Joe claims he likes the kid, that doesn’t mean he won’t sic his two slab of beef henchmen Sal (Mike Bizzarri) and Tony (Dick Hagerman) on his pasty, pudgy nephew to extract a little extra interest.
When Tommy goes to a neighborhood bar to drown his sorrows, his luck seems to change. First, he meets the sweet and attractive waitress April (Kristin Vandivier), then gets a side job doing taxes for the bar’s owner TJ (Bob Elkins). The real break comes when, as payment, TJ offers Tommy a surefire tip on a horse race…and sends him to the track with April to place a bet which could get him out of hock with Uncle Joe. As any gambler will attest, however, there’s no such thing as a sure bet. And even when things seem to be going right for Tommy for once in his life, appearances can be as deceiving as the spread.
Paul Geiger’s good-natured genre hybrid has a lot going for it. With moods ranging from a romantic comedy to a hard-bitten Mafioso movie, “April’s Fool” is likable enough, even during the frequent scenes where the dialogue rambles on almost as if it were being ad-libbed. Though Vandivier brings a certain fresh-faced innocence to her titular role, it’s mainly the palpable keep-your-enemies-close conflict between Samuels’ charismatic yet darkly ominous Uncle Joe and Dennis’ over-matched, utterly pathetic Tommy that drives this film forward. The film is unquestionably a little ragged around the edges and its ending unravels rapidly as it crosses the finish line. Still, like a horse that Shows, “April’s Fool” does more things right than wrong.