Starring: Vincent Gallo, William Forsythe, Adam Trese, Kim Dickens, Frances McDormand, LisaGay Hamilton
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Synopsis: Jerry and his two pals, Russ and Syd, are just looking for some easy money to help them break out of their nowhere lives in their nowhere town. Despite a bungled jewellery store heist which exposes their incompetence as criminals, a fateful event convinces them that they can pull off an armoured-truck robbery. While they are busy plotting their caper, their dysfunctional families spin out of control, all around them.
Palookaville is similar to a lot of films in that it is about a bunch of guys who want to rob banks, but are too inept to pull it off. It is kind of close in tone to Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket, although not quite as quirky or charming. It probably got lost amid all the Tarantino stuff back in the 90’s, which is unfair because there is much to recommend.
Basically, the three pals have dreams to get out of their small town and make something of their lives. They just don’t know how to do it. Normal people like myself and you dear readers would probably buy a bus ticket and find a job when we got to where ever it is we are going. But no, these guys think that they need to rob a jewellery store. The problem is, they accidentally break in next door instead, and find themselves surrounded by cakes and doughnuts rather than diamonds. Again, normal people would rethink the plan and do something a bit more legal. Not Jerry, Russ and Syd. They dream even bigger and aim at robbing an armoured truck. Alas, things don’t go to plan for these bumbling idiots.
It’s a sweet kind of film, one where you grow to love the gang, despite their inadequacies. Lack of brain cells, poor planning and new and existing relationships serve to confound their every turn, but you keep rooting for them. I thought Vincent Gallo was the stand out performer in a pre-Buffalo 66 role. Despite what a lot of people think of Gallo (I actually like him) he certainly has acting chops. He is Russ, the glue that tries to bind the gang together. Forsythe is Sid who, after falling in love, becomes increasingly unreliable and unconcerned about their plan. Adam Trese is the dumb one Jerry. There is good support from the likes of Lisa Gay Hamilton, Kim Dickens and Frances McDormand.
If you were charmed by Bottle Rocket, Welcome To Collinwood and to a lesser degree Tarantino, then I think you will be a big fan of Palookaville and it’s loveable losers.