Underworld comedies all tend to fall into the same vanilla-witted trap. Inevitably, the crooks are harmless nitwits — and that’s the joke. The trouble is, the joke seems harmless. In this genially frowsy safe-cracking farce, Sam Rockwell and Steve Zahn, talented space-cadet actors who are in dire need of a straight man, play Sam and Eddie, a pair of no-talent lounge singers in Providence, who get mistaken for master thieves. Coming under the thumb of an apoplectic Jewish gangster (Michael Lerner, in a mop of unruly gray curls), they are forced to bust open a series of safes, even though they’re not much good at opening anything besides their mouths. Writer- director John Hamburg appears to be trying for a Coen brothers comedy without the narrative aggression or knowing pyrotechnical pizzazz. (All that’s left, really, is the flakiness.) A wafer-thin divertissement, Safe Men coasts, for a while, on the charm of its performers but devolves into a lazy, shticky series of Jews-can-be-hooligans-too routines. C

Safe Men
  • Movie
  • 88 minutes