There are messy movies and shambolic comedies, and then there’s whatever the hell “Last Call” is supposed to be.
It’s a “back to the old neighborhood” dramady almost guaranteed to give you a hangover. I’m on my third aspirin already, and I haven’t had a drop.
Unlike everybody else in this boozy, lazy, unfunny “redemption” tale about the “success” who “got out” of Darby Heights (Upper Darby, Philly), went Ivy League, but never lost his “Jersey Shore” loving edge.
Jeremy Piven is Mick Callahan, 50ish and single and working for an unscrupulous Italian-American developer (Garry Pastore) who wants to build a casino in the old ‘hood.
Mick, supposedly a high roller with a top-end desk job, is arm-twisted into getting names on a petition to get the locals, most of whom he’s known since childhood, to stop putting “Casi-NO” signs in their yards.
He’ll have to work that in around his mother’s wake. She’s gone, and now there’s just his aged dad (Jack McGee), another “mick” running another Irish bar, Callahan’s Pub. He’s third generation, but without Mick to float loans to save the place or quit his job and run it, “The Bucket” isn’t long for this world, steady clientele (Bruce Dern as “Coach”) be damned.
Because Mick’s no-good muscle-bound lady-killer “big brother” (Zack McGowan) is headed back to prison, and on a bit of a bender as he braces for that eventuality.
Back to the Heights means Mick might run into his childhood crush, Ali (Taryn Manning of “Orange is the New Black” and “Hustle & Flow”) and her kvetching, cooking, cussing Greek mom (Cathy Moriarty, in rare form).
As they guzzle through Mick’s Mom’s wake and its endless elbow-bending aftermath, Mick collects those signatures and we wonder not so much if he’s sold his soul, but if he has the cash and wherewithal to buy it back.
The script was co-written by a real-estate developer, not that you can tell (cough cough). It’s a picture more wrapped up in ensemble and semi-seedy milieu than in anything that makes sense.
Trite and cliched redemption stories always go down easier with Irish stereotypes and toasts, right?
“If yer’gonna lie, lie for love. If yer’gonna steal, steal a heart. If yer’gonna cheat, cheat death.“
Piven dials down his “Entourage” cock-of-the-walk persona so much here that he gives us nothing to hang onto. Mick is presented as loud, still tough, still able to hold his liquor, still single and still pining for the still-single girl next door.
None of that plays. For the first time since he was John Cusack’s perpetual second-banana, Piven’s boring.
Every movie in this vein has to have “the boys” you grew up with. Jamie Kennedy plays one of those. There are old grudges about Little League brawls, sexual conquest contests, a blowsy tart roughly their age (Betsy Beutler) and dreams of a group vacay to “Tha SHORE.”
And at every juncture, with every scene (save for the tippling priest hearing confessions in a phone booth at the bar at the wake), “Last Call” grates. The script is tone deaf and the direction (Paolo Pilladi settling some ancient Italian grudge against the Irish, apparently) incompetent.
It’s the sort of picture where a supporting “villain” (Kresh Novakovic) lines up a pool shot, fully expecting the dunce behind the camera to notice he’s still rolling even though he’s lining up to poke the 6-ball with his cue, and keep that out of the frame
The dunce doesn’t.
“Pop” is fixing up the boat in the driveway for crab fishing, pulling huge chunks of fiberglass off a Swiss-cheesed junkyard prop. Alert viewers can see motor’s been pulled out of it, and that the boat in the water later looks nothing like this.
Not that anybody should be paying that much attention to this. The headaches “Call” induces are real, even if you don’t enjoy the libations it usually takes to earn them.
MPA Rating: R for crude sexual content, pervasive language and some drug use
Cast: Jeremy Piven, Taryn Manning, Zack McGowan, Jack McGee, Jamie Kennedy, Cheri Oteri, Kresh Novakovic, Garry Pastore, Cathy Moriarty and Bruce Dern.
Credits: Directed by Paolo Pilladi, script by Paolo Pilladi and Greg Lingo. An IFC release.
Running time: 1:42