Poolhall Junkies plays out like a variation on an old design dictum: If you can’t make it good, make it big. The film, Mars Callahan’s hopped up debut, is an unwieldy jumble of empty tough-guy gestures led by Chazz Palminteri and that king of sui generis eccentricity, Christopher Walken.
Put it this way: As a poolhall manager Rod Steiger, in all his cue-ball-bald apoplexy, is a moderate gent compared with his overexerting costars in this garage-band appropriation of ”The Hustler” or ”The Color of Money.” The idea is that Johnny (Callahan himself, who makes squinting a Method acting choice), a too-cool-for-the-room pool shark, wants to become a legitimate pro, but has to fight off the strong-arm demands of his rat-bastard hustling mentor (Palminteri). There’s a fancy law-student girlfriend (Alison Eastwood), and a freakin’ rich attorney (Walken) who digs Johnny’s smooth moves and backs him with cold cash.
While the camera clomps listlessly from person talking to person listening and back again, no line of dialogue is simply spoken. Variations include yelling, barking, growling, and rasping in the style of Alison Eastwood’s father, Clint.