By Drew Taylor | The Playlist January 12, 2012 at 5:59PM
The poster for “Loosies,” a new film written, produced, and starring Peter Facinelli, best known for his role as the big daddy vampire in the “Twilight” movies, makes it look incredibly dangerous and edgy despite the fact that its name suggests some son-of-“Porky’s” sex comedy (it’s a reference to buying single cigarettes, which we all know is both illegal and fairly commonplace). The poster is doused in dark, brooding colors and even has Michael Madsen, part of the movie’s all-star B-grade supporting cast, brandishing a gun (while wearing sunglasses no less). But the movie itself is a much lighter, more amiable affair, much more so than its Photoshopped-to-shit poster suggests. And that’s part of the problem.
“Loosies” opens with a wordless montage that juxtaposes our two main characters. Bobby (Facinelli) is seen walking around New York City wearing a suit and stealing people’s wallets. (Apparently, being a Dickensian pickpocket is a viable crime world option in the year 2009, which is when the movie was shot – you can tell by all those “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” subway ads.) Imagine that sequence from “Ocean’s Eleven” when Matt Damon is lifting the guy’s wallet, but without all the style and going on for about fifteen minutes. At the very least it provides some nice, genuine New York scenery, which is always appreciated. While we’re watching all of this we also take in Lucy (Jaimie Alexander from “Thor”), pretty as a picture and with about as much personality, wandering around New York and, what, soul searching? Taking photos for her blog? We’re not quite sure and she’s never given enough back story in the movie’s brief 88-minute run time to explain her daytime wandering, except that she grew up in Texas but remains, to this day (in 2009), entirely accent-free.
As the movie progresses, a string of subplots emerge – it turns out Bobby’s father died while owning a not-insignificant sum to a low-level gangster named Jax (played, with appropriate aplomb, by resident scumbag Vincent Gallo). So that’s why Bobby picks pockets – so that he can pay back the debt to Jax. Iffy logic for sure, especially if there was any indication that Jax killed his father (a cause of death is never brought up or investigated). Since Gallo is playing the bad guy of course there is some weird, emaciated teen that Gallo barks orders at and whose presence is never explained. Additionally, Bobby picked the pocket of a detective (Madsen), in the process stealing his badge (and using it occasionally). This got out to the press and so Madsen, with the help of his politically minded superior (played by another B-movie great, William Forsythe) are trying to track Bobby down and retrieve the missing badge. Then there’s Bobby’s mom, who has just moved in with Carl (Joe Pantoliano, again, this cast is about two eastern European actors away from premiering on the Syfy Channel), the owner of a local jewelry shop.
But what does any of this have to do with Lucy, the girl we saw walking around New York like Anna Paquin in “Margaret?” Well, as it turns out, very little. Lucy was a one night stand that Bobby had a few months back (since he’s a criminal, he of course keeps his activity to himself, sort of like Batman) and now – guess what? – she’s pregnant. The probability that she would actually become pregnant in real life? Very low. But in the let’s-punish-the-woman-for-being-sexually-active ethos of the movies, it’s all too common. Once Bobby finds out, it’s a testament to Facinelli’s script that the idea of going through with an abortion is actually considered and talked about (which is more than you can say about most movies), even if you know it’s never going to happen (like most movies). Facinelli is incredibly likable, and manages to hold the movie down based almost purely on his raw charisma, since Alexander, while adorable, does absolutely nothing of interest. The fact that Bobby entertains leaving his criminal life behind for her and their new baby seems less to do with Lucy and more to do with his eagerness for change, since you can’t imagine the two of them would have much to talk about.
While the movie tries to pile on the tension, with the combined threat of Madsen’s police officer and Gallo’s slimly gangster, looming large, you never really feel like anything’s at stake. If Bobby’s father owed Gallo half-a-million dollars when he died, and now they seem pretty chummy, you can’t quite make the leap to Gallo being a scary villain. (Scary villains don’t sit in their bathrobes eating cereal.) And Madsen seems like a doltish detective, his screen time pared down to a handful of scenes to the point that, since we’re robbed of seeing the actual detective work, he just springs up every once in a while with a gun, shouting things. When Madsen finally gets the drop on our hero and he’s forced to leave his home, you’re less curious about what will happen when Madsen catches up with him, and more concerned about how Bobby is charging his phone. These are the things that cross your mind while watching “Loosies.”
By the time the movie reaches its cluttered climax, the tone of the movie has become so wobbly that it threatens to tip over entirely. The sunny romantic comedy elements have begun to clash violently with the crime movie stuff, and the attempt to sustain a kind of Elmore Leonard vibe has fallen apart altogether. The movie reaches an incredibly convoluted climax, which attempts to wrap up all of its loose ends in one tangled burst, and instead of being incredibly clever it just makes you wonder why Bobby didn’t try more large-scale crimes throughout the rest of the movie. But then again, we’d have been robbed of all of those great shots (courtesy of “Outside Providence” director Michael Corrente) of New York City. [C+]