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'Clover' Review

LightsCameraJackson LightsCameraJackson Critic Luck is not on “Clover”’s side. This low-budget crime dramedy, Tarantino wannabe is now available on Video on Demand. But there won’t be much demand to watch it — and for good reason.

Mickey & Jimmy, a couple of bumbling, family Irish bar-owning brothers, owe Tony, the big mob boss in town, a chunk of money. To quote Al Pacino’s Jimmy Hoffa in “The Irishman”: “Tony? Which Tony? They’re all named Tony.”

Well this Tony is played by Oscar nominee Chazz Palminteri. And he wants his dough — NOW. But when the brothers tell him they don’t have it (they blew it playing blackjack), Tony makes them an offer they — begrudgingly — can’t refuse.

They go on “a job” with Tony’s son Joey (the stock character names pile-up along with the dead bodies). But things don’t go as planned (do they ever in these movies?). And soon the brothers and a 13-year-old girl are on the run, with the mob hot on their tail. 

Michael Testone’s screenplay tries to juggle a lot of balls, but they all come crashing down. The black comedy attempt fails miserably. The ultra-violence is unimaginative. Most of the characters fall into the “only in the movies do people like this exist” category. And the second half “twists” are inserted merely for shock-value — and don’t add up.

The script lacks the polish and pizazz of the most recent entry in the blood-splattered, crime caper comedy genre: Guy Ritchie’s all-star “The Gentlemen”. There are a couple of memorably bizarre moments in “Clover”. One features Tony bashing a member of his crew’s head in with a bowling pin. But they’re memorable for all the wrong reasons.

The other “name” actor in “Clover” is Ron Perlman. The 1989 Golden Globe winner (for TV’s “Beauty and the Beast”) appears in the film’s long first scene and then pops-up for a about minute later in the film. That’s it. Lucky him. Many of the other cast members only look like A-listers. Playing “who looks like who?” in my head during the middle part of “Clover” allowed me to stay engaged and make it to the end. 

Director and star Jon Abrahams (Mickey) gives off a Sean Astin-vibe. Nicole Elizabeth Berger (who plays young Clover) could be mistaken for Emma Roberts. Jessica Szohr (Jackie’s ex, Angie) reminds me of Michelle Monaghan. A hired hitwoman has a Ronda Rousey look. And Jake Weber (Terry, a former MIT professor turned eccentric hermit) is John Oliver with a beard. Trust me, the better-known counterparts are relieved that they had no part in this mess. 

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