8 Heads In A Duffel Bag (1997), or I Had A Bunch Of Decapitation Puns To Use For This Title, But None Of Them Were Very Good; Just Like This Movie

10 08 2009

Joe Pesci is not funny. America keeps telling me he is, but I don’t buy it. I can’t find him humorous. I find him annoying, but not funny. Why is this guy so well-known? He’s not incredibly attractive, witty, charismatic, or insightful. He’s that one other guy in Hollywood besides the CAGE I could do without. And here I am, reviewing his movie. Why, you ask? Perhaps it was the cute title, perhaps I thought that its black comedy would dissuade my miserable tidings, or perhaps the idea seemed MILDLY interesting. Within the first five minutes, I thought that perhaps I was a fucking idiot, because this movie is one of the worst I’ve seen in a while.

It’s about professional schmuck Joe Pesci, a wise-cracking goomba hired by two hitmen to transport 8 decapitated heads from 8 powerful crime bosses across the country as proof to a very rich and powerful crime boss that they’re all out of his hair… permanently. He’s a little nervous about it, but it’s not that big of a deal because of his rough and tumble attitude. But he DOES start to get upset when a switch up at the airport gives him the wrong bag and leaves the 8 heads in the hands of some dumb tourist named Charlie who is going to be more than a little freaked out whenever he opens his overnight. Joe Pesci has to find this bag and retrieve it or else… hee hee… heads are going to roll… HA HA HA HA HA!!!

Wow… I’m exhausted. This movie really took it out of me. I was unprepared for how unfunny this was. This wasn’t just unfunny; this was aggressively flat and lifeless. This movie is about as flaccid as a decapitated man’s penis. I couldn’t even feign a laugh. It’s just bad, and I wish I could report a saving grace, but I can’t. I REALLY didn’t like this movie…

The comedy all relies on Joe Pesci to be an extremely funny man for some reason. The whole thing relies him and the eye-rolling premise to keep the chuckles going. Why anyone would do that is beyond me, but I’m apparently not good enough to be making these kinds of judgment calls for Hollywood, so I’ll keep my mouth shut. Anyway, Pesci must feel like he has something good here, because he really tries to sell it. Much like the anti-comedy that was My Cousin Vinny, Pesci uses the EXACT same goonish character to show how good of a head he has on his shoulders and how qualified he is to stand next to a duffel bag with 8 heads in it, a wise career choice when one considers his actual set of applicable skills. The big problem is that this persona isn’t funny. Like Tyler Perry’s Madea, Carlos Mencia, or anyone trying to “keep it real”, I really don’t find them as funny as I find them grossly presumptuous. Anyone who wants to keep it real had better be fucking hilarious beforehand, or otherwise I don’t think it’s very humorous to watch a non-funny person berate someone who is funny for laughs. That’s comedy cannibalism, and I don’t abide by it.

First-time director Tom Schulman uses a patchwork of tones, music, and shots that come together to make an amateur’s cacophony. He has an original idea, but he comes at it all wrong. Maybe I just don’t see what he sees, but what I’m seeing is a formulaic Guido comedy substituting heads for the usual fish-out-of-water offbeat romance and substituting Joe Pesci for a comedic lead (seriously; the relationship between Joe Pesci and Charlie is strikingly reminiscent of My Big Fat Greek Wedding in a few key areas. Think about it…). He has a good drive, and his writing is crisp, it just needed better delivery all around. For a debut feature, it’s not the worst I’ve seen, but blame needs to be laid somewhere.

I can’t even mock this film too harshly. It’s too weak and obscure for anyone to care. Even me. It just didn’t have enough of anything to stand on its own and make it a movie worth caring about. It has a strange premise that feels like a lot of wasted potential, a director that seemed a little overwhelmed, and Joe Fucking Pesci! Bada-bing, bada-boom, who gives a shit? Certainly not me. I give 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag 2 laughless hours out of 10.

Greener pastures tomorrow, I hope! I’ll be watching the dance classic Breakin’!




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