By Dean Edward | October 7, 2004

Good natured audience pleaser about two lower level collectors for an East coast loan shark on the trail of a $400,000 debt plays like a low-rent version of “Get Shorty”, with the Travolta character cut in two, presumably so he’ll have someone to talk to.

Childhood friends Joey Carlucci (Angelitto) and Dominick Mazzetti (Langa) are in the employ of a bookie named “Big Tommy” Cesaro (Cortese), chasing down delinquent debtors and debating Italians in baseball in their spare time. After they catch a wayward Russian by surprise, impressing the boss, they get assigned to bigger things: track down lying weasel Willy Starks (McNamara), a slippery con artist who absconded with $400,000 of Cesaro’s money.

After visiting Starks wife in jail, they discover that Starks is in sunny Southern California. Joey has a farewell dinner with his secret girlfriend, Nickie (McCormick), who is the daughter of “Big Tommy”. Not wanting to get whacked for dating the boss’s daughter, Joey and Nickie dine in the kitchen of the local café, where the passing waiters and cooks emerging from the nearby meat locker kill the romance. Nickie is frustrated with the secrecy and with Joey’s inability to find a real job; Joey just wants to keep things as they are. Why is it, when you tell a woman that she is bitching about something, she will interpret this as being called a bitch?

Joey and Dominick fly to Los Angeles, and we have our FOW (or ‘fish out of water’) jokes, with the duo being severely misunderstood by a gay bellhop named Ricardo (Gallegos), who offers himself in a manner that is borderline understandable. They locate Starks, who is doing business in a strip club with two dangerous looking Cubans. Stationed outside his house, in a convertible that won’t open, Joey gets hungry and breaks in, only to be attacked by Rachel, Starks’ 10 year old daughter. Freaking out because he has knocked her unconscious, with Stark and the Cubans coming in the front door, Joey and Dom escape with her in tow.

Newcomers Langa and Angelitto make a definite splash with their first feature, which was shot in high definition and looks terrific. The two have a good natural chemistry together, and the inevitable comparisons to Affleck/Damon will be a great help to them. Their script is also surprisingly taut, lacking the usual pretentious crap so evident in most maiden cinematic voyages. The dialogue is sharp and funny, and the characters are as colorful and memorable as those in an Elmore Leonard novel. This has been an audience favorite at such festivals as Cinequest and the Back East Picture Show, and it’s easy to see why. These two have a real future in Hollywood, and I can’t wait to see their next effort.

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