Set in Dean Martin's hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, Six Ways engages in another form of displacement by treating this rundown rust-belt city as the realm of unreconstructed 1930s-style Jewish gangsters. Those Yiddish songbirds, the Barry Sisters, are warbling on the soundtrack and, as aspiring enforcer Harold soon discovers, the Jews allow no liquor in their office. "We like coffee here," the big boss (Jerry Adler) explains. Harold soon becomes the goy in the shvitz, beating up deadbeats while absorbing the local wisdom. "Having money and not flashing it is strictly for gentiles."
As the dialogue suggests, Six Ways to Sunday is not a particularly subtle film. In fact, it's crassly cut and often clumsily staged. Bernstein has a near-fatal fondness for gross close-ups and broad performances. Although the flavorsome, oddball cast includes Elina Lowensöhn (as Harold's deceptively timorous love interest), Adrien Brody (as his overly "yo" buddy), and Isaac Hayes (as a cop nemesis), the movie mainly feasts on the spectacle of beefy tough guys pulling faces and rolling their eyes.
Directed by Harold Ramis
Written by Ramis, Peter Tolan, and Kenneth Lonergan
A Warner Bros. release
Opens March 6
Six Ways to Sunday
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Bernstein and Marc Gerald from the novel Portrait of a Young Man Drowning by Charles Perry
A Stratosphere Entertainment release
Opens March 6
Still, in true gangster fashion, Bernstein does imbue the project with an aggressively stylish look and gives it a nitwit savoir faire a flashback to the '70s with Harry singing "More, More, More." Six Waysis also true to its psychosexual underpinnings. Harold takes orders from his surrogate father and his real mother until. . . . The least one can say for the final crack-up is that (unlike Analyze This) it's less shtick than what used to be called sick.
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