Review by Steve Rhodes|
3 stars out of 4
Rose are red.
Violets are blue.
You scammin' me?
Or am I scammin' you?
THE BIG SQUEEZE is a whimsical fable. As soon as the opening
credits of unaligned type appears with their multicolor shades of
pastel, the audience is served notice that a light hearted comedy is
approaching. As the quote above from the press kit shows, writer and
director Marcus DeLeon wants to weave a web where you are never quite
sure who is on the up and up, and who isn't. If you are tired of big
message films and epics and want to kick back and just be entertained
with a simple little film, THE BIG SQUEEZE is just the flick for you.
As the action starts, con man Benny O'Malley (Peter Dobson) is
kicked out of a boxcar because his hand inconveniently has not just
four kings, but five. Down but never out, he heads into a local bar
broke, but looking for action. He tries his come on lines to bartender
Tanya Mulhill (Lara Flynn Boyle from THREESOME and RED ROCK WEST), but
since she is married, they don't go far. He later switches his
approach to the other bartender, Cece (Teresa Dispina), who hits it off
Tanya is married to minor league ex-baseball player Henry (Luca
Bercovici from PACIFIC HEIGHTS). Henry got hurt in a car accident a
couple of years ago and has never worked again. He spends his days at
the mission run by Father Sanchez (Sam Vlahos), and when he isn't there
he reads constantly from his well worn Bible.
One day, Tanya opens Henry's mail and is aghast to find that Henry
has been keeping his insurance settlement of $136,000 from her all of
this time. His righteous stance is that, "Money is the devil's calling
card. He is not welcome in this house." She wants to divorce Henry
and get her half of the money, but he is a Catholic so he does not
believe in divorce.
The show is about her conniving with Benny to separate Henry from
the money. Since the mission fortuitously needs $136,000 for
earthquake repairs or it will be closed down, Benny comes up with an
ingenious scheme that he hopes will get the money from Henry. Along
the way, Tanya goes to stay with a sweet gardener named Jesse Torrejo
(Danny Nucci from ERASER and THE ROCK), and Jesse gets roped indirectly
into the con as well.
Benny is a classic con artist. He laments to Henry that, "Whoever
invented money? Personally, I could kill them. What with all the
frustrations and temptations."
The show has an ensemble cast. Everyone seems at the top of their
form. The director does let the show drag some, but the cast always
gives it their all. Especially endearing are Boyle and Nucci playing
two likable and compelling characters.
I have always been a fan of Lara Flynn Boyle, but this has to be
her best picture to date. She plays the role in a low key fashion, and
yet manages to own any scene she is in. I especially like the way
Jacques Haitkin filmed her. He shows that her skin is not your typical
glamour model smooth, and it is full of freckles, and yet, she looks
alluring and seductive without doing much more than just standing.
The music by Mark Mothersbaugh is a whimsical blend of xylophones
and flutes. The script is a delight from beginning to end. Speaking
of the ending, it will have you guessing until the last. The are
several endings possible, but in this life affirming little show, it
doesn't really matter which one the writer chooses. Other than I wish
the director had not let the show bog down as often as he did, and I
wish he had kept the energy a bit higher, I have no other criticisms.
A sweet little comedy.
THE BIG SQUEEZE runs about an hour and a half, but the press kit
did not give the exact time. It is rated R. There are two fairly tame
fistfights, a little sex, fairly mild language, but no nudity. The
film would be fine for any teenager. I love the show and recommend to
you. It gets *** in my book.
Copyright © 1996 Steve Rhodes