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Mad Dog Time
Ellen Barkin! Jeff Goldblum! Richard Dreyfuss! Gabriel Byrne! Diane Lane! Gregory Hines! Kyle MacLachlan! Burt Reynolds! Richard Pryor! Angie Everhart! Billy Idol! Paul Anka!
All of the above take part in Mad Dog Time, a 1996 bomb from writer/director Larry Bishop, the son of Rat Pack member Joey Bishop. Being the son of a celebrity seems to be what the younger Bishop is best at, too, because Time manages to mangle, botch and fumble every scene, every potential laugh and every bit of talent available.
Goldblum plays Micky Holliday, the hired gun of mob boss Vic (Dreyfuss). Vic is sick, and his assistant Ben (Byrne) is jockeying for control of … something. We don't know what, because Bishop never stops to explain what exactly this "mob" does. Run drugs? Import/export? Extortion? And who are the henchmen, the foot soldiers?
While Vic has been away at a mental institution, Micky has been "taking care" of the boss' girlfriend, Grace (Lane). But at night, Micky is seeing Grace's sister, Rita (Barkin). There are also rival mobsters that want to take over whatever it is that Vic has, not to mention Vic's newest muscle, Nick Falco (Bishop himself … and yes, the fact that his name rhymes with "Mick" and "Vic" is supposed to be hilarious), who wants Holliday's job.
The plot unfolds very simply: Three or four people are in a room together. One person shoots another person. "Witty" comments are made. Lather, rinse, repeat. Much of the film clips along at a one death per scene ratio for no explicable reason.
The first scene sets the tone for what we see throughout the film; Byrne sits behind a big desk, adjusting his jacket (grabbing it with his pinky fingers extended, as big a mobster cliché as available) then, after some brief expository dialogue, shoots a guy. We're not told why. Even after watching the entire film, I still don't know why. The entire production plays out the same way – no motivation, no ultimate goal, just people killing people and making bad jokes about it.
Byrne turns in the best performance of the film as the fast-talking, pun-spouting Nick. In fact, most of the cast does at least a serviceable job with what they've been given. The problem, of course, is that what they've been given is so one-dimensional that's it is impossible to really act.
The best part of the film (besides the relief inherent in seeing the closing credits start) is the soundtrack, but that had to be the easy part for Bishop. All he had to do was go to daddy's friends; the elder Bishop, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. tracks play in the background through most of the film. It's enough to wish that Mad Dog Time came with an alternate sound track for the score only.
How high a priority for MGM was the DVD release of Mad Dog Time? Not only did they release it from the catalog eight years after its domestic "run" (according to the IMDB, it grossed $41,480 on 18 screens in its opening weekend, then a week later dropped off the radar completely), but they've put it out in pan-and-scan format only, going as far as to give us a screen at the beginning reminding us that the film was "modified to fit your screen." The darks look inconsistent and the colors are muted.
Supposedly, the film is in "5.1 surround," but I don't remember a single sound coming from the rear speakers. There's also a Spanish stereo surround track.
The trailer is included, along with English, French and Spanish subtitles. I'd have preferred apologies from those involved.
Is it supposed to be a parody? Perhaps. Maybe the entire idea was to poke fun at gangster movies. But whether it supposed to be serious and Bishop has left the audience out of the plot, or silly and Bishop has left the audience out of the joke, Mad Dog Time comes across as nothing more than Bishop putting only quasi-related vignettes together with no rhyme or reason.