Queens Logic

There is, in reality, a place called Queens, but it has nothing to do with the Queens of this movie — an astonishingly bogus ensemble comedy that has been cobbled together from the working-class-New York clichés of three decades. Queens Logic is about a gang of noisy neighborhood fellas, mostly Italian, who are fast approaching middle age. Imagine the Saturday Night Fever crew 20 years later, and you’ll have a pretty good idea. Al (Joe Mantegna), who has turned his local fish business into a success, is a party-hearty show-off who doesn’t have it in him to be faithful to his wife (Linda Fiorentino). His cousin, Ray (Ken Olin), is the sensitive artist of the group, always venturing up to his apartment rooftop to create his neo-Renaissance paintings (you can tell an inner-city guy has soul when, like Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront, he does his hobby on the roof). Ray is about to get married to Patricia (Chloe Webb), but he’s getting cold feet. After all, she’s a hairdresser, and he wants to paint frescoes in Italy! Then there’s Eliot (John Malkovich), a homosexual who can’t bring himself to act on his desires; Dennis (Kevin Bacon), a musician who has gone to Los Angeles to become a success, only to discover that he can’t land a gig; and Vinny (played by Tony Spiridakis, who also wrote the script), a struggling actor and full-time stud.

Queens Logic is a cutesy, glossed-up version of a dozen other films about neighborhood guys who keep hanging out together because they don’t want to grow up. Here, though, the material that seemed so alive in Diner and True Love has lost all of its urgency. Spiridakis, a first-time screenwriter, has an actor’s externalized idea of what will ”play.” He loves showy, soul-searching encounters, and he’s come up with some doozies, like a scene in which Jamie Lee Curtis, as a wealthy outsider, gets Mantegna to confront what a selfish guy he is by holding a gun to his head in the middle of a graveyard. Spiridakis mixes and matches stock characters with such enthusiastic abandon that the film is borderline camp. (One example: When people keep complaining that Mantegna’s character reeks of fish, you may wonder why, since he owns the business and works entirely out of the front office.) The most pressing dramatic question the movie raises is why so many good actors got suckered by such a lousy script.

Queens Logic
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