Brooklyn Rules Review
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Brooklyn Rules follows the close friendship of three young men as they reach adulthood in Mafia-ridden Brooklyn in 1985. Street-savvy Michael (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) dreams of becoming a lawyer and breaking away from the streets. Handsome Carmine (Scott Caan) is intrigued by the Mafia and happily sees his future right here in Brooklyn. Bobby (Jerry Ferrara) is the nice kid who just wants to get married and work at the post office.

As children in 1974, they run across an abandoned car with a murdered man and a live puppy. Surprisingly, the three seem unimpressed with death, and Bobby nonchalantly takes the puppy into his care. Michael has a bit of a “bad boy” streak and even steals from the church collection plate. Carmine is just concerned with his hair.

Now fast-forward eleven years. Though Michael aspires to a different way of life, he’s still a natural con artist. A senior at Columbia University, he knows how to play both sides. He’s attracted to Connecticut society girl Ellen (Mena Suvari), who in turn is intrigued by his edginess. A sometimes rough but romantic relationship ensues. Meanwhile, Carmine becomes friends with Philly (Chris Caldovino), who works directly for Caesar (Alec Baldwin), the local crime boss. Together, they perform small jobs as Carmine tries to attract the attention of Caesar and thus get into his good graces. At the same time, Michael resents his Mafia ties, but along with Bobby, he’s pulled into the drama. Will they be able to escape this way of life? Whether they succeed or not, nothing will stand in the way of their love and loyalty toward one another.

The story continues to unfold until one mafia boss dies of an illness. A fight for power then ensues, and mayhem reigns. Old wounds are opened, deeds are revenged, and it’s payback time. Though the plot is predictable and makes use of various clichés, I was surprising able to overlook this flaw. The dialogue is smooth and the characters captivating. This may be due to the close relationship that writer Terrence Winter (also writer for The Sopranos) has with his subjects. He claims that the story was actually about his growing up in Brooklyn with his two life-long buddies, Bobby and Chris. In fact, that same Chris plays Philly in the movie. “Where the story strays into fiction is with the hardcore crime stuff,” he maintains. Yes, the film is violent in spots, and yes, I was squeamish. But I’ve seen a lot worse in recent movies. Though I couldn’t shift away from Scott Caan’s striking physical resemblance and character similarities to that of his father, James, he definitely stands on his own. In fact, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jerry Ferrara (Turtle from HBO’s Entourage) also deliver powerful and believable performances, and Alec Baldwin plays a commanding and convincing mobster without going over the top.

If you’re looking for a hardcore Mafia extravaganza filled with all of the blood, guts, and gore, you’ll be disappointed—though there is sufficient disturbing violence for my taste. There are no twists, as I was anxiously sitting at the edge of my seat, not wondering if but when the unthinkable would occur. However, the resolution is fulfilling, and the engaging but flawed characters make up for the film’s imperfections. In other words, Brooklyn Rules won me over.

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