“If you’re not in over your head, you’re not in.”
Broadway’s Finest is the kind of independent film that you realize has the best of intentions but fails to completely deliver. On paper, Broadway’s Finest sounds like a low-budget version of 21 Jump Street or of Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz, but the film’s cheesy dialogue, overly melodramatic music, underdeveloped subplots, and unbalanced structure makes the final film pretty unfavorable. Ultimately, it’s a movie that just exudes amateurism and will be unable to benefit from its almost completely talentless cast.
Three struggling actors – the loyal husband, Goldstone (John Lavelle), the dense former firefighter, Willy (Nick Cornish), and recovered drug addict, Lewis (Adam Storke) – score the opportunity they’ve been searching for when a stage producer happens to catch a phenomenal improvisation session during their acting class that the trio claims is part of longer show they are creating. A few days later, the producer contacts the actors and says that he wants a finalized version of their play’s script within seven days so that he can prep the production for a fall opening. The three actors, excited by this prospect, decide that to create an authentic cop drama they should understand what it feels like to be a cop. When ride-along’s with real police officers prove to be unexciting, Goldstone and Willy decide to impersonate cops and actually immerse themselves in the gritty areas that cops brave regularly. With Lewis tagging along, the trio begins to lose themselves in this fantasy and, before long, is too involved with the criminals they are chasing to return to their lives of normalcy.
This is clearly a story that has much potential with substantial room for humor, intriguing characters, and even an engaging plotline. The previously mentioned film, Hot Fuzz, is a wickedly sharp cop comedy that cleverly deconstructs the genre of police dramas while also blindsiding the audiences with surprises and plot twists. It’s an inarguably intelligent flick and Broadway’s Finest wants so desperately to be the next inarguably intelligent cop comedy, but it just is not…at all. Writer/Director Stephen Marro, while definitely showing some aptitude behind the RED camera, obviously does not feel nearly as confident with a pen in hand. The cheesy dialogue induces consistent eye-rolling and there are some laughable one-liners (worse than the one atop the article) that are pathetic attempts at psychological revelation. This is only worsened when the script is in the hands of the inept actors (except for Adam Storke, who actually turns in a decent performance) who portray the frustratingly senseless characters. Plus, Marro must not have much practice in balancing a storyline because the changes from lite comedy to dark, and violent, cop thriller are so sudden and, at times, confusing. When the film finally resolves, it culminates in a bizarrely incomprehensible ending that I am still struggling to completely understand. I either missed some essential moments leading up to the climax, or the film just tries to shortcut itself to the end credits by throwing in a ridiculous reveal for good measure…I’m going to believe the latter.
While somewhat impressive on the technical end (highly economic 22-day shoot, noteworthy cinematography), Broadway’s Finest is a cross-genre project that would have been far better with some polishing, or in the hands of a more talented writer, such as Edgar Wright. It’s an idea that flounders in its execution, which shaves away the potential it held when outlined on paper. It wanders around with jarring tonal changes that in the end simply left a bad taste in my mouth. The feature majorly enthralled the audience that attended my screening at The Boston Film Festival, so maybe I am the odd man out, but I found Broadway’s Finest to just be a dull, aggravating stab at entertainment.
Review by Mike Murphy