Poolhall Junkies

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Reviews Counted: 43

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Average Rating: 3.9/5

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Movie Info

A small-time pool shark with dreams of the big time seeks revenge against the mentor who did him wrong in this drama. Johnny Doyle (Mars Callahan) was a teenaged orphan when Joe (Chazz Palminteri) took him under his wing and taught him everything there is to know about shooting pool. Johnny became a genius with a cue, but while he dreamed of becoming a respected professional billiards player, Joe preferred to keep him working along the lower rungs of pool hustling. When Johnny learns just how far Joe has gone to keep him down, Johnny breaks away from him, but Joe and his thugs take revenge against Johnny by breaking his wrists. Tara (Alison Eastwood), Johnny's upper-crust girlfriend, urges him to get out of the pool racket, and Johnny grudgingly agrees, though he feels empty without the excitement of the table. Johnny renews ties with his younger brother Danny (Michael Rosenbaum), and begins to fear he's going to fall into the same sort of traps that snared him -- especially when he finds out that Joe has his eyes on Danny. Johnny decides to give pool playing another go, and teams up with Mike (Christopher Walken), who bankrolls hustlers and would like to take Joe down a notch or two. But Joe has found a new player, Brad (Rick Schroder), whose talent rivals Johnny's, and he's not sure if he knows a way to beat him on the green felt. Poolhall Junkies also features Rod Steiger in one of his final roles; the film didn't see theatrical release until nearly nine months after his death. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Poolhall Junkies

All Critics (43) | Top Critics (12)

Whatever you want to say about this Mars Callaghan -- who is an avid cue-man in real life -- he would seem to be able to sink anything. Darned if he doesn't make this whole movie disappear.

Mar 21, 2003 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

As a director, Callahan wants the verve that Martin Scorsese brought to The Color of Money, but his visual approach is careless, relying too much on clichéd slo-mo and hasty edits.

Mar 21, 2003 | Rating: 1.5/4

[A]ll of it just seems so familiar and so trite, we know exactly where this is going.

Mar 4, 2003

90 minutes of slow-leaking, macho stomach gas, in which everyone talks like they were on brawny pills and every tawdry song on the soundtrack makes you feel as if you were trapped in a lap dance club.

Feb 28, 2003 | Rating: 1/4
Top Critic

This film coulda been a contender if Callahan hadn't worn so many hats -- but it has moments that make it worth waiting for on video.

Feb 28, 2003 | Rating: 2/4

Is this a great movie? Not at all. Is it more or less consistently entertaining? Yes.

Feb 28, 2003 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Poolhall Junkies


Johnny Doyle: You watch my mouth, Chico. 'Cause you sure as hell don't wanna watch me play pool. Unless, of course, I'm blind folded and hand cuffed with a pool cue stickin' out of my ass. Or maybe you'd bet the twenty thousand then?  "Sometime You Get A Second Shot... Make It." Poolhall Junkies seems like a movie that has elements of Edward Burns, Quentin Tarantino, and The Hustler. In the end, it doesn't work. It doesn't work because Mars Callahan's script and direction is off; not to mention how bad his acting is. The dialogue is spit out at a fast pace, maybe to make us not realize how stupid a lot of it is. Here's another director who saw how Tarantino liked to write quick, snappy dialogue, and thought he could get in on it too. Problem is, his dialogue isn't smart like Tarantino. It's just bullshit. The movie is saved by Chazz Palminteri and especially Christopher Walken, though. Johnny is a pool shark who has been under the guidance of a shady mentor, Joe. Johnny never wanted to be a hustler, he wanted to be a pro. When Joe didn't allow that, and Johnny finds out; he gets out. Joe retaliates by getting Johnny's brother involved. This makes Johnny come back to the world of the pool shark for one last big game against Joe and his player, and a rich backer, Mike, shows up to help Johnny with the finances. Poolhall Junkies is nothing special, but it isn't all that bad either. There's a certain amount of fun that comes from the film, but in the end, it is brought down by its own stupidity. There's not a whole lot of good movies made about pool, but the masterpiece film, The Hustler, keeps making people think that there's a lot of potential in the pool hall setting. There is, but you have to know how to use it. Callahan didn't quite know exactly how to use it and it shows.

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Poolhall Junkies is an indie film with some edgy comedy and clever writing. The film follows a group of hustlers at a local pool hall who end up crossing a professional pool-hustler that's out for revenge. The ensemble cast works well, creating a rich and interesting group of characters. And, there's a lot of sharp dialog that's edgy and fun. However, the film takes a while to find its direction and has a few too many side stories going on. Still, Poolhall Junkies is a fun and entertaining film that's good for some laughs.

Dann Michalski
Dann Michalski

Super Reviewer

Interesting concept for a film, Poolhall Junkies is the story of a Proffesional pool player and hustler Johnny Dyole who wants to go ligit and break away from his dishonest mentor, Joe. The film is at times uneven, and you can see that there are aspects that they could have improved on, but for the most part it's average film thats very entertaining. I use to appreciate this film very much, but re watching it, you kind of notice that the script needs a bit of work and that that the acting is somewhat sketchy by Mars Callahan who acts also as the film screenwriter and director. One thing is for sure, Callahan's idea of casting Chaz Palminteri and Christopher Walken was a good idea, and there the ones who really deliver on screen. The dialogue is witty, and the script is smartly conceived, but it's obvious that this is a film by a first time screenwriter and director. That's not saying that it's a bad thing, but I've a lot better. The film is a mix of comedy, crime and drama and it's quite an interesting blend of genres in one film. Poolhall Junkies manages to be a good, entertaining film. But it never achieves anything beyond great. It's a cool little film with a decent cast.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer


Mike: What do you call a thousand lawyers buried up to their necks in sand? Johnny Doyle: What? Mike: Not enough sand. A very fun movie about hustlers in the poolhall. There isn't much too it, a lot like the movie Rounders, but this doesn't take itself as serious. It's fun, has a lot of cool pool shots that aren't fakes or done with camera tricks. It moves along quickly enough and there's also the help of Chris Walken stepping in and giving off some great lines. The story revolves around a young guy, Mike played by writer and director Mars Callahan, who has a natural gift at pool, but has been raised by a mentor, played by Chazz Palmenteri to hustle others. Mike attempts to break off his connections with the hustler life, but cannot help to continue playing pool. Through this he manages to meet his girlfriends uncle, played by Chris Walken who takes a liken to him. The movie eventually boils down to a showdown where Mike has to prove himself as a master pool player. Johnny Doyle: Bet twenty thousand! [the poolhall falls silent] Johnny Doyle: Oh, did I stutter? Everybody gone all quiet and shit? About a minute ago it was like an evening at the Apollo up in this motherfucker, now all of a sudden it's quiet as a church. That's all right, Chico, I don't blame you. I've been beatin' this Jimmy Walker lookin' motherfucker all goddamn night, he can't win. Chico: You'd better watch your mouth, Johnny! Johnny Doyle: You watch my mouth, Chico. 'Cause you sure as hell don't wanna watch me play pool. Unless, of course, I'm blind folded and hand cuffed with a pool cue stickin' out of my ass. Or maybe you'd bet the twenty thousand then? While the plot is pretty familiar, as I have mentioned, the movie is about having a good time watching it. Walken, in particular, seems to have fun with delivering the plot related lines with a slight smirk. The film also boasts a good soundtrack and enough style to make it standout a bit. Fun flick. Joe: How the fuck does that make you feel... to be in that position with all your money on the table? Mike: How much you got, Joe? Joe: What? Mike: Total. You put down 80 thousand like it didn't matter. That's a lot of money for somebody like you and him. I think it matters. Joe: What's the difference... Mike: I'm a millionaire! That's the difference. I lose 80 I get another 80. For me it doesn't matter. See, I think it's you... who's sweating this, the both of you.

Aaron Neuwirth
Aaron Neuwirth

Super Reviewer

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