Reviewed by: Ryan Izay
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Brad Renfro, James Franco, Joshua Leonard, Vincent Pastore | Directed by: Scott Kalvert | Produced by: Fred Caruso, Michael Cerenzie, Paul Kimatian, Willi Baer | Written by: Christopher Gambale, Paul Kimatian | Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
“Deuces Wild” starts with a voiceover saying, “It was the summer I fell in love.” But don’t be deceived by this because “Deuces Wild”, very similar to “West Side Story” in many ways, lacks the romance. With a cast like this you would think that “Deuces Wild” would be a great film and a big box office hit. And if it weren’t for “Spiderman” perhaps it would have drawn in a larger crowd, but even so, this fantastic ensemble cast seems wasted for the most part.
Stephen Dorff and Brad Renfro do what they can to add life to their roles and seem successful. The rest of the talent tries to do the same but never really seem to have that much to work with. James Franco hardly says a word in this film, which is sad considering the fact that he has just become somewhat of a rising star since winning a Golden Globe for his portrayal of James Dean. And I can’t help but point out that he beat himself out in the box office opening weekend as Peter Parker’s friend and roomate in Spiderman.
Also worth mentioning is Johnny Knoxville, Frankie Muniz, and Matt Dillon. All seem to be more like background or cameos rather than stars of this film. Despite the fact that the characters at times seem one dimensional, “Deuces Wild” is an interesting film. Nothing completely original comes out of it, but its fresh look at some old familiar material. Street gangs are dying to have a reason to fight each other and one action slowly snowballs into many tragic deaths and hopefully a valuable lesson. Along with this we get a star crossed lover relationship.
The film takes place in the 50’s so for the most part there is no gun play but don’t think that that means the violence is tame. That would be like saying that “Braveheart” is tamer than “Saving Private Ryan” because they didn’t use guns. “Deuces Wild” is most definitely a film for mature audiences. Along with the violence there is plenty of language (almost 100 “f” words) and some drugs and sexual situations (with movement shown, though no nudity). The leading character is fighting for a moral cause and he works at the local church, getting advice from the priest as he does his job repairing and cleaning, but it is obvious that he does not always make the best choices no matter how worthy the cause.
“Deuces Wild” does end up making a statement about violence but I’m afraid that it is so subtle that most audience members will miss it and leave with nothing but the fights.