Philadelphia is full of scum. Take that from a person who lives there and yet, loves it so!
Philadelphia, circa the 1970’s where the mob has practically taken over all business. And a fella by the name of Mickey (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is one of those mobsters who does his business, moves on, and goes back to his wife, Jeannie (Christina Hendricks), to make sure she’s happy and pleased with the life he’s made possible for her. However tragedy strikes for them both when Jeannie’s kid ends up dying in a surprising “freak accident” at work. Though there’s a lot of speculation concerning that “accident” and whether or not it was actually a cover-up, Mickey has to find enough cash to make sure that his wife’s kid gets the best funeral possible and also, that he’s able to do so without having to split any heads in the process. Problem is though, he’s owed money by a lot of people, and there comes a point where you have to stop being nice, and start taking action in order to get what you want.
Or you know, something like that.
Honestly, though there seems to be a plot on the surface here, the truth is, there really isn’t. I mean yeah, this Mickey fella has to find a way to squander up a certain amount of cash so that his wifey-poo’s kid can get the funeral she wants him to have, but you can sort of tell about half-way through that the movie doesn’t really know if it wants to pay much attention to that, or anything else in this movie for that matter.
Most of that has to do with the fact that this is the directorial-debut by one John Slattery who, if you don’t know by now, so charmingly plays Roger Sterling on Mad Men. And that’s why it’s really hard for me to trash on this movie because you can tell that Slattery wants to make a good movie and definitely has the potential to make one in the near-future if he decides to continue to go down this road of being behind the camera, but this sadly, is not that film.
Because honestly, it’s just that Slattery doesn’t quite know how to make the blend between comedy, drama, and bits of violence, seem all put together in a cohesive manner. To say this thing is messy, is to say you get wet when you step out in the rain without an umbrella; it’s pretty obvious. But what makes this movie worse than just something of a mess, is that it’s too dull to ever be considered “an interesting mess”. And this is where, as much as it pains me to do so, where I get a tad mean on Slattery because it just seems like he doesn’t really know where to go with this material, nor does he know of what to actually say about any of it, or the characters that inhabit it; he’s sort of just a pedestrian to all that’s happening.
And honestly, that’s not so bad for some movies out there, considering they have a great cast on their hands. Which is why this is an even bigger surprise to me, considering the ensemble Slattery’s been able to cobble up together here. Of course we all know that John Turturro is good at playing the sneaky, gangster-type, but rather than doing anything interesting with that role here, it’s more of a case in where you can sort of see him going through the motions without much heart or inspiration. Same goes for the always lovely Richard Jenkins who plays a journalist with a bit of a drinking problem. Though it’s a pleasure to see Jenkins on screen and acting like his usual smarmy-self, his subplot really doesn’t add much to this movie and feels unnecessary, especially when you consider how much time it’s actually taking away from the real story at-hand here, which is Mickey getting all of that money for this funeral.
And yes, while that plot seems ripe with all sorts of excitement and fun, Slattery’s direction doesn’t really get to portray any of that. Instead, it’s just a slow, uninteresting bore that you can tell wants to say something about these low-life characters, but in the end, isn’t really saying anything at all. In fact, if I had to really dig deep underneath this story, I’d say that Slattery actually glamorizes these characters a bit as being constantly funny, cool, and able to use violence whenever they want. Now that’s fine and all when you have well-written characters, but here, there’s nobody to really care for, nor even really pay much attention to.
Same goes for the character of Jeannie who we’re supposed to care for the most, but instead, don’t really care for, because we don’t get much of her to begin with. We just see that she’s devastated with the news of her son’s passing and we’re supposed to build our opinions about her around that idea. It didn’t quite work and although you can tell Christina Hendricks is clearly trying to break away from her Joan Harris-image, it more or less feels like she’s not trying hard enough. Or that she doesn’t have much to really work with in the first place.
That could definitely be the sole reason and it’s an even bigger shame, too, because this movie will also go down as one of the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman’s films. And, above everything else, is the true disappointment of this movie – giving one of the most compelling presences of the past decade or so, and hardly giving him anything to work with. Though Hoffman is totally trying his hardest with this Mickey character, in the end, he’s just a weak-character that’s like any other, low-time, two-bit gangster: He’s a nice guy, but also has some dark shadings as well. That in and of itself is a total convention of the mob-tale and it’s made even worse by the fact that a person who could do something with that convention and spin it in an interesting way, doesn’t get a chance to do so.
Not his fault of course, just bad material that he didn’t deserve.
Consensus: Everybody involved with God’s Pocket seems to be trying, but in the end, is just a disappointing mess that makes the mortal sin of not bringing anything interesting to the audience’s heads while on screen.
2.5 / 10 = Crapola!!
Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz
K, I’ll skip watching this then, bummer.
Yeah. Bummer indeed.
I’ll still watch this I think, sounds like my cup of tea! One man’s horse shit is another man’s (or woman’s) gold mine 🙂
That’s true. Hope you at least like it better than me.
I’ll let you know 🙂
Wow, harsh times man! I was hoping this would be good why with the cast etc, it’s been on my watch list for ages. Oh well,mback to the drawing board I guess!
Eh. See it if you’d like to, but honestly, don’t expect much.
I saw this back in April at the SFF.
My review called it a dark comedy which worked on just the comedic part – every thing else didn’t quite work.
So on that level we are in agreement –
I also wrote : The film is almost a serious of vignettes tied together loosely by Leon’s murder, alcoholism, Jeannie’s huge bust line, and Mickey’s desire to do the right thing only he’s hindered at every turn.
I gave it a higher rating than you did – but I deemed that rating overly generous..Yet your remark that this film is disappointing is not wrong. I just didn’t call it a mess. As you said this was Slattery’s first directorial effort.
The film is almost a serious of vignettes tied together loosely by Leon’s murder, alcoholism, Jeannie’s huge bust line, and Mickey’s desire to do the right thing only he’s hindered at every turn.
For me, it just seemed uneven, messy and quite boring. Something I wish wasn’t true for me, but sadly, it was.
Man, that’s a shame. Terrific cast too! Good work Dan.
Such a shame with that cast. Thanks for the heads up. I’ll probably end up watching this one, but now my expectations will be in the right place. Nice review!
Really? Shame; I had hopes for this.
Have not seen this, but such a shame that with so many talented actors this hasn’t turned out to be worth watching!