Things Change Review

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Gino (Ameche), a humble shoe shine, is made an offer he can't refuse - play the ringer for a prison-bound Mob Boss, keep it quiet, then be released to a fortune beyond his wildest dreams. Of course, when Gino is taken for one last hurrah by Jerry (Mantegna), he gets a taste for the life of the Mafiosi and prison is the last place he wants to go.


David Mamet is the Chicago playwright renowned for his bleak, wordy (especially f-wordy), high-velocity, hard-driven dramas like Glengarry Glenross, Sexual Perversity In Chicago and American Buffalo. His first feature film, House Of Games, offered more of the same, but he took his foot off the accelerator and turned down the volume considerably for his next vehicle, Things Change.

Veteran actor Don Ameche (Trading Places, Cocoon) Gino, a humble Italian man who is picked up by the Cosa Nostra because he’s a dead ringer for the head hit-man wanted for murder. The old guy is offered riches beyond his wildest dreams to take the rap for the unrepentent malefactor (“ I shot him three or four times, the son of a bitch”) — enough to buy his longed-for boat when he gets out of the slammer. Mamet’s favourite actor Joe Mantegna (House Of Games, Suspect) is Jerry, the soft-hearted hood “on probation” charged with briefing Gino for his trial. Moved by the old man’s stoic innocence, he decides to show him a good time during his last weekend of freedom and takes him off for Mafia-ridden Lake Tahoe. Then things change

Things Change is valuable for the quality of its acting and for Mamet’s chuckle-laden screenplay. There are some wonderful moments—like when Gino bets his brand-new $35,000 on the Wheel Of Fortune — as the two protagonists experience mutual growth: Jerry picks up a few values while Gino gains a glint in his eye.

Mamet’s gem of a movie, with a great final twist, goads the Godfathers with just as much invention and wit as the much higher profile Married To The Mob.