Brooklyn Rules, a small budget mafia film with some semi-big names, hits theaters this May, and despite starring Freddie Prinze, Jr., it is a surprisingly good and engaging film. Alongside Prinze, who actually does a pretty good job, the movie stars Scott Caan, Mena Suvari, Jerry Ferrara of "Entourage" and the bad man himself, Alec Baldwin.
It's deliciously fun to watch Baldwin play a mafia boss, not quite to the same calibre as watching Jack Nicholson playing a ruthless villain, but satisfying nonetheless. Baldwin doesn't have a large role in the movie, but he commands the scenes he's in. Beyond him, Rules has plenty of other talent to spread the wealth to, as Caan has found a role made perfectly for him (an up-and-coming mafia hit man), Suvari continues to beg the question why she has only appeared in sporadic films since her central role in American Beauty, and Ferrara plays pretty much the exact same character he does on "Entourage" - but we love him for it. And amazingly, Freddie Prinze, Jr., who has been called a flat actor to say the least, carries the movie quite well. His starry eyed, almost innocent expression most of the movie conflicts well with his street smart, Brooklyn demeanor, and in Brooklyn Rules he finally sheds the pretty boy teen act he has been relying on for so long.
So what is Brooklyn Rules about? It's a relationship story, most of all, not unlike other films of the genre. The movie is about three guys who have been friends since they were kids. They've all grown up in Brooklyn, and none of them know anything beyond Brooklyn. As they edge into adulthood, though, you can see the three are at a crossroads. Prinze is attending college, dating a beautiful girl from Connecticut (Suvari) and wants something more with his life than to just stay in Brooklyn. Ferrara is too stupid to know anything better, but he is content with his life. Then there's Caan, who is starting to see the charm of the mafia. The movie explores how the three men adapt to the world around them, and how the mafia slowly affect their lives in different ways.
The movie is written by Terence Winter, who has penned several episodes of "The Sopranos", and his ability to write about the mafia shows. Brooklyn Rules really isn't about the mafia; it is more about three characters who just happen to be affected by the mafia in the area. Still, Winter is able to bring a subtle balance to real, engaging characters who are surrounded by the violent, hypocritical phenomenon that is the mafia, not unlike "The Sopranos." If you like "The Sopranos", you'll probably find you like Brooklyn Rules, as it essentially uses the same formula.
Brooklyn Rules is not one of those movies you're going to watch over and over again, and it is probably one that will be forgotten in a year, but for the time being, it is a quality film with good acting and an excellent screenplay. Recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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