WENT TO CONEY ISLAND ON A MISSION FROM GOD…BE BACK BY FIVE

4 Stars
Year Released: 2000
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 94 minutes
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Not only does this film have the coolest title ever, but this bittersweet, multi-layered comparison of life’s realities versus life’s potential is as compelling as it is deeply resonant.
When lifelong buddies Daniel (Jon Cryer) and Stanley (Rick Stear) hear that Richie, their one-time third musketeer, had been seen wandering around Coney Island homeless and deranged, they set out on their mission to find him. As they traipse around the nearly deserted amusement park on a blustery winter day, they encounter a collection of motley park groupies.
As they interact with these odd folks, they gradually become aware of the drifting stagnation in their own lives while we observe, through intermittent flashbacks, the moments that brought them to their current state of entrenched ruttedness.
Though it sounds ponderous and preachy, it’s actually quite funny and thought provoking. Co-writer (with Cryer)/director Richard Schenkman tugs a heartstring or two, particularly when the guys find Richie, a manic depressive scrounging around in the garbage, and we learn what drove him there. But he mostly just lets us enjoy hanging out with these two guys for the day. The film is a little slow, but that’s more than balanced out by its resonance. Anyone who’s the same age as these guys and who sees everyone around them but themselves getting a picket fence and a piece of American Dream pie will identify with their frustrations.
Cryer, to his credit, seems determined to do his own thing; this being his second notable off-Hollywood turn with Schenkman (“Pompatus of Love”.) Not only that, the guy’s just fun to watch; a sort of overlooked Bob Newhart of the 90’s. Would somebody please put him and the oft-confused Matthew Broderick in the same film so that Cryer could get the recognition he deserves?
It may not necessarily be a mission from the Big Guy, but do yourself a favor and check out this film.



Posted on October 26, 1998 in Reviews by
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