Brooklyn Rules ***
Directed by Michael Corrente
Rated R for violence, pervasive language and some sexual content.
"Brooklyn Rules" is a huge surprise: it is a good movie. It is not extraordinary-will not change the face of the gangster genre for the rest of time-but it is well acted, well written, funny, heart-wrenching, and interesting look at the mafia, friendship, and family. It is Scorsese-lite, and for once it does not try to be a copy of other mafia type films. "Brooklyn Rules" focuses more on character and not action, on friendship rather than plot twists, and it turns out to be one of the more satisfying films in recent memory. The film revolves around three friend, Michael, Carmine, and Bobby. The three of them grew up in Brooklyn close to the mafia and had to live with horrifying factors-like finding a dead, bullet ridden body in the front seat of a car. But the three of them managed to remain friends over time, all of them heading through life in a different direction. Michael (played by Freddie Prinze Jr, who surprises by turning it really good work here) goes to Columbia and hopes to go on to law school, Bobby hopes to settle down with his girlfriend and start a family, and Carmine has ties with Caesar, the most powerful mob man in Brooklyn (played by Alec Baldwin).
That is all that really needs to be known. Like I said this isn't a film strong on plot but about relationships. There are some obvious plot twists that can be seen a few seconds before they are about to happen, and some scenes are a little "cookie-cutted." The relationship that Michael has with his girlfriend Ellen was a bit unneeded. But if anything this has heart to go along with its violence, and its a smart and effective drama. All of the acting is well thought-out, and I was shocked to find that Freddy Prinze Jr. was capable of delivering powerful work. Alec Baldwin only has a couple of scenes, but has shocking screen presence. And like in any Italian mafia film there are the usual strong emphasis on faith, religion, and God, even though a death relating to an image of the virgin Mary (not to ruin anything) does question how strong the views of God are to screenwriter Terence Winter. This is a good film, chocked full of twists, heart, and humor and you will leave the theatre stuffed and satisfied.