Knockaround Guys

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 11, 2002

It's hard to say who's dumbest in this drama about four Gen-X mobsters-in-training (Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel, Seth Green and Andrew Davoli) who travel to a small Western town to retrieve a missing half million dollars. Is it the jumpy bag man (Green), a trust-fund slacker with a taste for nose candy who can't even be trusted to carry a duffle bag from Spokane to Brooklyn without losing it in the middle of nowhere?

Or is it his pal Matty (Pepper), a would-be goombah who persuaded his dirty-dealing dad (Dennis Hopper) and slithery uncle (John Malkovich) to give his bumbling buddy the job in the first place? Maybe it's the old guys, who should have known better than to trust children with that much cash. Or, it could be any and all of the denizens of Wibaux, Mont., a one-stoplight hamlet populated by pot-smoking skate-punks, venal beady-eyed sheriffs, alcohol-soaked barflies and white-trash women.

Filmmakers Brian Koppelman and David Levien (co-writers of "Rounders") could have taken this premise and turned it into a half-decent black comedy about life in the moron food chain, but instead they've opted to rely on Mafia and redneck cliches and a mindless, bullet-fueled climax to a film without a moral center that will satisfy only those who can't tell the difference between the good, the bad and the ugly.

KNOCKAROUND GUYS (R, 92 minutes)Contains obscenity, drug use, gunplay and beatings. Area theaters.

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