American Buffalo

September 27, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

David Mamet wrote this adaptation of his own explosive, profanity-propelled 1975 play about a couple of scheming scroungers (Dustin Hoffman and Dennis Franz) and their young would-be accomplice (Fresh‘s Sean Nelson). The plot theoretically hinges on the theft of a possibly valuable buffalo-head nickel; in fact, American Buffalo is about nothing less Mametian than commerce, friendship, betrayal, despair, and American hustle. Director Michael Corrente (Federal Hill) works at getting the story off the stage (it’s set in a junk shop) by occasionally moving to an empty, decrepit city street. But mostly he just locks on to Hoffman and Franz and enjoys watching them act their tushies off. One unfortunate by-product of artistic recycling: Now that we’ve seen Mametish verbal tough-guy operas fizzed up by such ’90s descendants as Pulp Fiction and The Usual Suspects, Buffalo (unfairly) loses its punch. B

American Buffalo

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American Buffalo

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