Picks and Pans Review: Wise Guys

updated 05/05/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/05/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

If asked out to see this gangster send-up, the prudent moviegoer will respond with something like, "Come in and get me, Copper," or perhaps, "You'll never take me alive." Director Brian (Body Double) De Palma, who has injected a lot of tangential wit into most of his previous films, deserves some credit for having the enterprise to make a full-fledged comedy. Well, make that a slightly-fledged comedy. Danny (Jewel of the Nile) De Vito and Joe (Johnny Dangerously) Piscopo play New Jersey hoodlums who are held in such low esteem that their main jobs are to start their boss's car to check for bombs and do the gang's grocery shopping. When they try a scam that ends up with their owing the boss $250,000, they find themselves running for their lives. De Vito and Piscopo do a decent neo-Abbott and Costello. But neither De Palma nor debut writer George Gallo give them much to work with. The few funny bits are like oases in a desert, separated by agonizingly long dry stretches. (The best line goes to Dan Hedaya, who plays the mob boss and at one point gathers his thugs to consider revenge against De Vito and Piscopo. "Do we really hurt them by killing them?" he muses. The henchmen ponder this for a while and one finally murmurs, "It's a start.") For the most part, though, De Palma is not as funny trying to be as he was unintentionally with Scarface. (R)

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