Jim Serpico

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Rescue Me: Season Three Review


Grim
In the first couple of seasons, Denis Leary's FDNY fire opera Rescue Me flung itself through windows and played out in traffic. It busted jaws, opened old wounds just for spite and made grand sport of the whole ungodly train wreck of it all. It was almost as though co-creators Leary and Peter Tolan (The Larry Sanders Show) felt they were going to get canceled any second and so chucked all caution to the wind. In between sitting around the firehouse and indulging in some of the more profane dialogue ever to grace the TV screen (even on basic cable), the characters were subjected to just about any disaster Leary and Tolan could come up with, anything to push these emotionally stunted mugs to the wall and see what devastation they would mete out in response.

But somehow, the pissy little export from the land of the five boroughs -- and rarely has a show so viscerally captured the city's day-to-day, boiling-over, rat-in-a-cage anger -- survived. And this is after sending the wife of the Chief (Jack McGee) into a debilitating Alzheimer's nightmare and not only devastating Tommy Gavin's (Leary) family with the long-term and low-intensity emotional warfare of a never-ending divorce but then, near the end of the second season, having a drunk driver kill Tommy's little boy. That tragedy was then capped off by a nothing-to-lose Uncle Teddy (Lenny Clarke) gunning down the driver in full view of the cops, since a life behind bars seemed preferable to anything else he had going.

Continue reading: Rescue Me: Season Three Review

Rescue Me: Season Two Review


OK
Roughly midway through the second season of FX's Rescue Me, New York firefighter Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) is called by his dead cousin's widow to give a lecture to her teenaged son, who has just expressed an interest in becoming a firefighter; having lost her husband in the World Trade Center, she's not interested in having another smoke-eater in the family. Tommy is most of the way through his lecture, giving the kid the full business about the horrific side of the job, people found without faces or melted to their beds, but then he turns it around and starts in on how at the end of the day, he knows that no matter what, he made a difference. It all brings a smile to the face of his cousin, standing behind his son. You see, Tommy's cousin might have passed away, but being dead doesn't keep you from the cast of Rescue Me -- it just means you're not necessarily in every episode.

The first season of the show was a rollicking explosion of male-bonding, sadistic humor, and whiskey tears spiked with that FX Channel-brand of almost-HBO boundary-pushing. Gavin was a weekly train wreck of rage, bouncing from his mistress to booze to his failing marriage to booze to tempting death on the job with FDNY Engine 62 to booze again. Along the way, Tommy also held long and in-depth conversations with the ghost of his dead cousin, before deciding to shack up with and impregnate his cousin's equally messed up widow, Sheila (Callie Thorne) in the aftermath of his wife running off with the kids. Season Two opens with everything in disrepair, to say the least, as the firefighters keep pushing through the emotional wreckage of 9/11 long after the country has moved on.

Continue reading: Rescue Me: Season Two Review

Double Whammy Review


Grim
Has any film director fallen quite as far as Tom DiCillo? After a masterful debut with his tongue-in-cheek look at filmmaking, Living in Oblivion, DiCillo has turned in a series of progressively more-ignored features, including Box of Moon Light and The Real Blonde. His latest, Double Whammy, is going straight to video, despite a cast that includes Denis Leary and Elizabeth Hurley -- and not in bit parts, either!

The silly, one-joke story is reason enough to find Whammy (not a movie about Press Your Luck!) so inspiring. Leary plays a cop who, only through some fault of his own, is never able to bust a perp. It starts out in a fast food joint, when a gunman drives through the wall and starts shooting. Leary slips and hits his head, and a little bespectacled kid uses his gun to save the day. Later, his apartment supervisor is killed while he's oblivious in the building. Various quirky characters (like Hurley's masseuse) try to distract you into thinking this movie is actually about something, but the deception never works too well.

Continue reading: Double Whammy Review

Monument Ave. Review


OK
Weird little Ted Demme movie about (what else?) drugs and thugs. Denis Leary plays a low-level gangster in an Irish mob, forced to maintain utmost secrecy when one of his best friends is capped by the boss right in front of his eyes (and in a rather jarring sequence). Curious story, it tells us about loyalty but never says whether that's a good or a bad thing. Not to mention, it's always tough to take Leary seriously in a dramatic role. At least he really is Irish.

Continue reading: Monument Ave. Review

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