Two talentless singer-songwriters become embroiled in the Jewish Mafia, and are mistaken for safe crackers, with dire consequences should they fail. Throw in the fact that one of them falls for the daughter of the rival boss and they've got themselves into somehot water.
The latest entry into the ever-swelling canon of low-budget crime capers stars Rockwell (Lawn Dogs) and Zahn (That Thing You Do!) as Sam and Eddie, two would-be singer songwriters with a distinct lack of talent who fall victim to a safecracking scam perpetrated by Jewish Mafia honcho Big Fat Bernie Gayle (Lerner).
He believes that the pair are expert safecrackers and sets them a task: they have one week to crack a trio of safes, or risk being rubbed out. But their new-found criminal career goes off kilter thanks to Sam's romance with the daughter of the town's only other Jewish gangster, Good Stuff Leo (Harvey Fierstein), a singing gig at Gayle's son's Barmitzvah and the appearance of the real safecrackers.
Safe Men is a well-meaning movie trying desperately hard to be liked, with its theme - loveable idiots turn criminal - very similar to last year's Palookaville. In parts, it's thoroughly engaging thanks to a series of delightfully silly set pieces (the pair's attempt to crack a safe at the same time as the actual masterminds, a bizarre subplot involving Fierstein and exploding trousers).
The performances (especially the gangly, appealing Rockwell) are nicely judged too, while the stylish, snappy editing makes for pacy viewing. In its eagerness to please, however, Hamburg's directorial debut slips up by offering the audience too much, most notably peppering the otherwise intelligent dialogue with pop-culture fuelled conversations which seem irrelevant and irritating.
The ending, too, is a great disappointment, building up to a great deal of promise then backing down at the last minute in its quest for quirky cuteness. Which is a pity, because with some minor adjustments, this could have been a major discovery. As it is, it's just a pleasant, unremarkable little movie.
Nicely judged performances and stylish editing make this film a good, pacy watch. But it's let down by trying to do much, all at once and becomes distinctly unremarkable in the process.