Here’s a mob comedy as patchwork as its title –– “79 Parts.”
It’s a pieced-together period piece stuffed with characters, with multiple narrators and story threads, a “ticking clock” deadline or two that no one remembers and a hodgepodge of vintage vehicles dating from the 40s through the very late ’70s.
And none of it, not one moment of screen time, delivers anything resembling a laugh.
The two narrators are Slattery (Aidan Redmond, interesting), an Irish mobster who runs loan shark and chop shop operations (the “79 Parts” of the title) in his corner of “New York” in 1979, and Jack Anderson (Ryan O’Callaghan, meh), a one-time aspiring artist who is in the home stretch in law school because he’d love to get his crooked dad (Eric Roberts) out of prison.
Slattery needs to keep his young Italian immigrant mistress (Daniela Mastropietro) happy and his mob-connected wife (Lisa Regina) from killing him. Mob life?
“In your 20s, the job used to be sexy. Now that we’re in our 40s, it’s lost a certain luster.”
Anderson, no relation to the famous newspaper columnist of the era (apparently) needs $5,000 to pay off his last semester of law school. And darn it, let’s throw in that he’s “still a virgin,” because that’s what his narration tells us. His three-piece tan corduroy suit explains that.
The connection between the two is Gino, whose grandad (Tony LoBianco) is also in prison, and whose aunt is Slattery’s mob-made wife. Gino (Johnny Solo, badabing badaboom) is a classmate and hustler who’s always dragging Jack to the track.
Gino works for Slattery, whose marriage has created a combined business, “Paddys and Wops” chopping cars, using muscle and making threats. He vouches for Jack’s loan from Slattery, which Gino plans on gambling on “fixed” horse races with.
What could go wrong?
There are also INS agents sniffing around Slattery and his Italian baker mistress, assorted mugs and thugs, women who misuse Jack and vast collections of street walkers.
That may be the most accurate thing about this “period piece,” which looks like a film student’s idea of what the ’70s were like — a film student who doesn’t like doing research (the cars, the CARS).
Not that director Ari Taub is a film student.
It’s a movie of garish colors, big and badly-knotted ties (on the money) and hooker-wear straight out of “Starsky & Hutch.” It’s all shot in a could-be-anywhere Netherworld of gutted factories, abandoned railroad tracks and streets that haven’t been driven on in years. You shot in Brooklyn and this is what you got?
Every now and then, a character is given a funny name.
“Eight Track! Don’t touch the whores!”
The script’s idea of a sight gag is having the INS agents tie a string to a hubcap and drag it in front of suspects, looking for “a nibble” so they can hook them.
All kidding or ridiculing aside, this is what could have worked. That milieu, that “Fort Apache — The Bronx” era New York at its nadir, chop shops and ranting, stereotypical Irish mobsters, maybe in comical conflict with stereotypical Italian ones.
Redmond needed more coherent lines than this for Slattery — “They say a leopard can’t change his spots. Everybody ends up where he’s s’posed to.” Say what now? Still, there’s something possibly worth working with here in all this unfunny clutter.
So many characters don’t work, so many lines don’t land, so much casting (cameos by Roberts, LoBianco and Sandra Bernhard) seems fruitless.
The “parts” might be here — a few of them, anyway. They just needed cleverer people to put all 79 of them together better.
MPAA Rating: unrated, violence, sex and profanity
Cast: Ryan O’Callaghan, Aidan Redmond, Kathrine Narducci, Sandra Bernhard, Tony LoBiancp and Eric Roberts
Credits: Directed by Ari Taub, script by Chuck McMahon. A Factory Film Studio release.