Palookaville (1995) from Tuna

Palookaville (1995) is an "inept crook comedy", which could have easily been a Tarentinoesque violence thing, or a boring rehash of the "Over the Hill Gang." Instead, it is a low key comedy with lots of muted laughs, good performances, and wonderful character development. William Forsythe, Vincent Gallo and Adam Trese play lifelong buddies in Jersey City, New Jersey, all unemployed, all more or less in a state of perpetual childhood, and all looking for a way to make some money and have a life.

  • Gallo still lives at home with his mother, sister, and jerk cop brother-in-law. He is having a secret relationship with a young neighbor girl (Kim Dickens).

  • Adam Trese is married and has a child, but when he catches her supermarket boss trying to fondle her, he punches the boss out, turning them into a no-income family.

  • William Forsythe lives in squalor with his two dogs since his wife divorced him.

As the film opens, they are breaking into a jewelry store. They make a small miscalculation, and end up in a bakery. Being basically optimistic guys, they make the best of things by clearing out the few dollars in the register, and eating their fill of pastry. They then try an abortive attempt to run an unlicensed taxi, and then finally hit on "the idea." They will rob an armored car.

Given their total lack of ability, you just know they will not do well.

Despite starting with an oft-used premise, the film seems fresh, and has a lot of heart as well. There were also excellent supporting performances from the likes of Frances McDormand, Lisa Gay Hamilton and Gareth Williams. I didn't get many belly laughs, but spent the entire film chuckling, grinning broadly, and enjoying the characters.



  • No special features
  • widescreen anamorphic, 16x9



Kim Dickens flashes her breasts at Vince Gallo from across an alley.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus out of four stars: three stars. James Berardinelli 3/4, Roger Ebert 3/4.

The People Vote ...

  • Never having reached more than 12 screens, it grossed next to nothing. ($315,000)
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even 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. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). 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. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a solid C+. Much better than you'd expect from a film which couldn't find distribution.

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