Mad Dog and Glory (1993) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

A shy policeman (Robert DeNiro) who specializes in crime scene analysis accidentally stumbles upon a convenience store robbery, and in so doing he saves the life of a big-time loan shark (Bill Murray). The mobster is grateful, so he offers the timid cop a major thank-you gift: a gorgeous female slave (Uma Thurman) for a week.  She has to go because of a deal she made to save her brother. The cop doesn't want her, but she doesn't want to leave because she fears retribution from the mobster if she fails to please. So, the cop lets her stay, falls in love with her, and ends up having to confront the mobster when the week is up and the racketeer wants his loan back.

The plot is really a minor element in the film, which concentrates on in-depth character development, blended with comedy. DeNiro and Thurman do a terrific job as the lovers, and Bill Murray is suitably quirky as the mobster. Years before The Sopranos or Analyze This, Murray was working on the concept of a complex, neurotic gangster who occasionally does good things on the advice of his shrink, and who works out some of his aggression and need for attention by performing in Comedy Clubs.


Uma Thurman shows a breast in a sex scene with DeNiro

The character development is interesting in this film, even down to the secondary roles, and I liked that a lot, but the comedy pretty much flops. Even Murray, who has been about as funny as anyone in the history of films, really doesn't get more than an occasional wry smile out of the audience. The character constrained him. Because of the dramatic requirements of the film, Murray could not ad-lib and just be Bill Murray. He had to deliver scripted lines in character, and the writing just wasn't that witty.

By the way, the film was produced by Martin Scorcese.

DVD info from Amazon

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I don't know exactly what happened to director John McNaughton. His Wild Things, which allows Bill Murray to be much funnier, albeit in a far smaller role, is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Mad Dog and Glory is a pretty good light watch. McNaughton's last two films, however, are a documentary about a painter, and an unreleased film called Speaking of Sex, which also features Murray in a small role. (Well, I guess it is released now. First shown about a year ago at the Chicago Film Festival, it opened two weeks ago - in Greece!)

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 3.5/4, Berardinelli 2/4,


The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: it grossed $11 million in the USA


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, C. Sporadically entertaining, moving uneasily from character study to comedy.

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