Mad Dog and Glory Reviews
"A cop who'd rather be an artist. A mobster who'd rather be a comic. And a woman who'd rather be anywhere but between them."
A lot of great people were at work in Mad Dog and Glory. Robert De Niro, Bill Murray and Uma Thurman make up the all-star cast. John McNaughton, who directed Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer directed it and Martin Scorsese produced it. With all that talent I expected a much more lively and much funnier film. What I got was an enormous disappointment. There wasn't much I liked about it. I was even taken aback by the performances from De Niro and Murray. They aren't bad, but they don't seem as good as we know they are.
A cop saves a mobster's life in a holdup. In order to pay the cop back for saving his life, the mobster gives him a girl that he owns. The girl and the cop fall in love and now they have to decide how to stay together and not have Milo go crazy and kill one or both of them. That plot just isn't all that interesting to me and it is even less interesting on screen then it is on paper.
Mad Dog and Glory ended up being bland, and that is not something you expect when watching a Bill Murray or De Niro film. When I think about it McNaughton directed Henry... in sort of the same fashion. He made everything as dull as possible. In that movie it made sense though. This is supposed to be a comedy and should have been approached much differently. This pretty much shows why he faded away as a director and never really made anything as good or better than Henry.
There's some weird casting in this. De Niro is the quiet, sky photographer while Bill Murray is the crime lord. It's different and it works. The pair play off each other in a way that is mesmerizing on screen. Bill Murray goes beyond his usual schtick and allows a peak at a dark demon that underlies his character who also spends time as a Mafia stand up comic. This film is one of Uma Thurman's greatest performances, balancing out a naive girl who has learned some street smarts since being under Franks thumb.
Frank tells Mad Dog when they meet that he had the ability to fulfill his dreams and that's basically what the film shows in a warped sort of path. Mad Dog and Glory is a great movie with some classic performances that may have been forgotten over the years. It's a lost gem of the early 1990's.
This, his follow up to the brutal and violent "Henry: Portrait of a serial killer" follows the story of shy and retiring police detective Wayne Dobie (Robert DeNiro), ironically nicknamed "Mad Dog" due to his gentle nature and lack of machismo. By chance one evening, during a liquor store hold-up, Wayne saves the life of Frank Milo (Bill Murray), who it later transpires is a local influential gangster. As a form of gratitude Milo sends a gift to Wayne in the shape of Glory (Uma Thurman) for Wayne to have "fun" with for a week. After reluctantly accepting, Wayne finds himself falling in love and determined to save Glory from the control and ownership of Milo.
Director McNaughton begins this film with excellent use of black and white bursting into colour with the smoke of a crack-pipe during a drug deal. With this edgy beginning it looks like we will be treated to another gritty urban tale like his previous film. However, as the story progresses it falls into romantic comedy territory, which doesn't really gel with some genuinely dangerous situations and characters. The shift in tone doesn't really work and the film can't seem to decide what it wants to be. There's also an uncomfortable message running through it, of glorifying macho behaviour. DeNiro's character is never really accepted until he displays his macho potential and all the other male characters walk around with there chests puffed out and their fists clenched, leaving the females nothing more than cowering damsels in distress in need of saving. This is all a bit of a shame really, as the performances are excellent. DeNiro and Murray could easily have been cast in each others roles to good effect but by being cast against type it keeps them very interesting to watch. David Caruso is also brilliant, reprising his confident "NYPD Blue" type policeman.
These fantastic performances are what make this film a standout and worthwhile. Its hard to be overly satisfied with its different tones and uneasy balance with humour and while not entirely successful, it is at least ambitious and does things differently.
Was this the first film perhaps, to have a crime boss in therapy? before Analyse This/That and The Soprannos?