(Alec Baldwin, Freddie Prinze, Scott Caan, Jerry Ferrara, Mena Suvari, et al / R / 89 mins / City Lights Pictures)
Overview: Set in 1980s Brooklyn against the backdrop of John Gotti's rise to power, 'Brooklyn Rules' revolves around three lifelong friends whose different ambitions threaten to shake their enduring bond.
Verdict: I guess basically, brought down to its vital core, this new movie 'Brooklyn Rules' is a sort of 'Stand By Me' meets 'Goodfellas'! Imagine that, if you will! Written by three-time Emmy winner Terence Winter (The Sopranos) and directed by Michael Corrente (who played “Homeless Man No. 2” in Shallow Hal!), it's the story of three best friends growing up and growing together against an ‘80s backdrop of mob violence and the rise of John Gotti. The trouble is unless the producers strike a deal to make this film a mandatory part of the country's educational curriculum, 'Brooklyn Rules' seems destined for cinematic quicksand, which would be a huge shame ... as you'll see from reading on!
The story is narrated throughout by Michael (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), a college student (and loveable charmer) studying pre-law - that's when he isn't out to con his professors one way or another; and multile times over! Bobby (Jerry Ferrara) is the baby-faced (and endearing cheapskate) of the trio, who maintains his innocence and faith. And fashion plate Carmine (Scott Caan) is the one they both worry about because Carmine (also a handsome lady-killer) is falling in with wiseguys working for local mob boss, Caesar (Alec Baldwin), a feared mobster who controls their Brooklyn neighborhood; who lives the life that Carmine covets desperately.
Well, as time rolls along the boys turn to men, and although they remain as close as they can, they each branch off within their own lives. Michael gives his best shot at mixing with the upper-class crowd of his fellow students (where he meets Ellen, played by Mena Suvari). Bobby is planning to marry Amy (Monica Keena) - just as soon as he can pass the civil service exam. And Carmine is still planning schemes that aren't for the best and most times leaving himself with a lot of headaches and explaining to do!
The funny thing is, and as much as his friends detest Carmine's involvement with the mafia, they eventually end up needing those connections - when Michael gets into a fight with a low-level psycho named Gino (Christian Maelen). And so therein the tale of even when world's try to separate, being a loyal friend can still mean making the ultimate sacrifice.
But with mob boss Neil Dellacroce recently killed, things are unstable in the world of the wiseguys. Soon after the fight, Paul Castellano is gunned down (in a scene involving actual footage of Tom Brokaw's broadcast). There's a war brewing, and John Gotti is targeting anyone he deems disloyal. Soon, anyone who stood between Gino and Michael is gone, and the tragic violence of the underworld explodes again into Mikey's life.
So, if you like your movies peppered with seventies and eighties nostalgic references, with a character-driven story line, and with acting above its class for such a non-Hollywood backed movie, then for you my friend, Brooklyn will most certainly Rule for your theatre choice tonight!
'Brooklyn Rules' Trailer [YouTube]