As its title points out, Friends has a very marginal interest in Eddie himself. In his first scene, Coyle goes about telling a gun dealer (Steven Keats) about how some associates of other associates slammed his fingers after a deal went sour. A low-level hood since God-knows-when, Eddie speaks about the situation congenially before telling the dealer that he needs 30 guns. Coyle has been supplying guns to a pack of bank robbers, the head of which is played by Alex Rocco. The money he's making is to support his wife and kids before he reports for a two-year stint in a New Hampshire prison; he doesn't feel his family should be scraping by on welfare.
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That's pretty much the story, with rising star Robert De Niro strangely inserted into the movie to take advantage of his upcoming celebrity (he's a bicycle racer that falls for the gang leader's (Jerry Orbach) kid sister (Leigh Taylor-Young, completely lost here). The bulk of the film has Orbach and co. scheming endlessly to off Stander's Baccala, and over and over it fails to amuse us, even when a live lion is thrown into the mix. That's the film. If it weren't for Villechaize, there'd be nary a laugh in the whole movie, and even that kind of comedy is hardly highbrow.
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Of course, like all schoolyard tales it was too good to be true. "Blue Thunder" wasn't a top clandestine Commie-busting nuke firing super secret weapon; it was a cool looking helicopter that the cops used to control rioters. When I actually saw the movie a few years later, I was bummed to say the least.
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Jud Taylor's rendition adds two new characters, an American writer (Gary Cole, with a moustache!) and his wife (Patricia Clarkson, without a moustache), who are lazing about in Cuba while our fisherman is out at sea. Cole is obviously a metaphor for Hemingway himself, and while it does serve to break the monotony of spending the entire movie out on the water, the addition is perplexing and a bit jarring.
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