Since its plot centers around an aspiring pro baller, and there’s an allusion to big-league glory right there in the title, it’s kind of amazing that what John Nizzari’s comic drama most noticeably lacks is baseball.
What it’s got plenty of, however, is sputtering, fist-shaking, arm-flailing melodrama, none of which concerns umpires or bad calls. Twenty-five-year-old Mikey (Alexander Emmet) is wringing the last Gatorade-tinged drops of potential from his athletic career, hoping it’ll be the ticket out of his blue-collar Bronx neighborhood — which is portrayed soberly as a place full of tacky bars not yet decrepit enough to be hip, and women who prefer belly-bearing tops whether they’re flattering or not.
As Mikey’s story is mirrored by his Russian girlfriend Mimi’s (Natasa Warasch), pursuit of her (kind of deranged) dream of becoming a famous actress, the film seems like it might touch on the themes of Frances Ha: finding joy in adult compromise through the redefinition, but not relinquishment, of adolescent goals. Not so. Because suddenly all this . . . stuff . . . happens. And by “stuff” I mean murder, shootings, heroin abuse, cheating, guys getting roofied by other guys, rape as moral revenge, and the perpetuating of catty rumors, all of it senseless even within context.
Basically, a former BFF (Ben Mac Brown) becomes hellbent on ruining Mikey’s life for reasons that never get fully hashed out. What follows is mustache-twirling villainy, improbably foiled by Mikey’s loose-cannon dad (Paul Calderon).
If characters are going to ignite into blazes of unchecked emotion every five minutes or so, you’ve got to make sure your actors have the chops. These, unfortunately, aren’t sharp enough to bite.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 23, 2014