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The Super Review

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★★★★★

Louie Kritski (Pesci) is heir to the delightful family business of slum landlording, and a chip off the block of Big Louie (Gardenia), meaning that, in general, he's a heartless, selfish, racist, sexist shit. This being the caring-sharing 90s, the selfish fellow is first brought low and then transformed by adversity (see Regarding Henry, The Doctor, The Fisher King, etc.), the twist being that Louie gets his comeuppance on his own premises.

Found guilty of multitudinous building code violations, Louie's sentenced to house arrest in one of his own apartments for 120 days. Naturally, what he's advertised as the "fifth-floor charmer with a view" is a bedsit from hell and, naturally, it doesn't take 120 days for him to come unglued. His father's instructions to eat, sleep, watch TV and do nothing to improve the building - lest it set an unwelcome precedent with the ungrateful, underprivileged tenants - go awry almost immediately in the face of no heat, no electricity and the plumbing from hell.

One can easily guess that the fellow occupants of this ghetto tenements will include one cheeky and delightful small black boy, one wily Hispanic streetwise operator (Blades), one sassy, wisecracking, large black woman and a chorus of needy but exuberant folk chipping in with witty insults and observations in the course of Louie's re-education.

One may also not be too surprised that the plucky housing authority prosecutor on Louie's case should be a leggy, bespectacled babe who arouses his, er, interest. Talented though Joe Pesci is, this star vehicle - made before My Cousin Vinny - doesn't really suit him, except when he's being the cocky motormouth. He's too old for the role of Daddy's dutiful subordinate, while his fitful heart-thawing is, in the end, rather less than endearing. A lesson, perhaps, that those movies that fail to get a theatrical release do, with the occasional exception, deserve the direct-to-DVD treatment.

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