Plot: Johnny B. and Kamal have always been best friends and even followed the same career path, one as shiftless layabouts. The two have had various jobs over the years, but never take any of the positions seriously and as such, wind up on the wrong side of the bosses and out on their asses. But to unwind after another lost job and another round of nagging from Johnny’s mother, the two break out the telephone and make some wild prank calls. The calls are just silly jokes to have a few laughs, but one connects the boys to Ernie Lazarro (Alan Arkin), one of New York’s top mob bosses and not the kind of man to mess with. Johnny pretends to a Chicago mafia don named Frank Rizzo, telling Ernie to pick up a couple of made men visiting the big apple. Johnny hopes this will lead to a night out on the town on the mob’s dime, but of course, he and Kamal take things over the top. But can they somehow make this partnership with the mafia work or will this be their final prank?
Entertainment Value: Although Hollywood often makes movies from unlikely sources, but even by their standards, a feature film based on prank calls seems like a stretch. But as a fan of The Jerky Boys, I knew I would have fun with this one and I think it has held up well, as far as ridiculous, over the top comedies are concerned. The narrative is of course ludicrous, but makes sense within the realm of the duo’s prank calls, where all kinds of wackiness unfolds. A lot of the humor is rooted in the characters established in the prank calls the two are known for, so fans are likely to connect more here, but you don’t need to have that frame of reference. After all, the characters are given a brisk introduction and this isn’t rocket science, so as long as you like over the top, ridiculous humor, you’re good here. But if you don’t laugh at prank calls or just don’t appreciate The Jerky Boys’ style, this movie isn’t likely to make you into a fan, as this is deeply rooted in their sense of humor. I can see how the offbeat, often nonsensical jokes might not land with everyone, but I always fun with this one and for fans of prank calls or oddball 90s comedies, give The Jerky Boys a spin.
The leads are played by The Jerky Boys themselves, with Johnny B. and Kamal in all their usual splendor and range of characters. Of course, neither were experienced actors at this point, but both were capable performers and comfortable with this kind of material, so they are up to the task. Johnny is the stronger presence and tends to steal scenes, but Kamal comes through and raises the volume in his special style, so while not polished, both handle their roles well. But the real star of The Jerky Boys has to be Alan Arkin, who seems to be confused throughout and never fails to entertain. He seems so baffled by what happens around him and it is just hilarious at times, so he embraces the silliness and makes the most of it. Vincent Pastore is also fun to watch, as he plays his usual mafia tough guy role quite well. The cast also includes James Lorinz, Alan North, William Hickey, and Brad Sullivan.
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