April 18, 1997 in Seven

Take Your Cue From Title Of ‘8 Heads In A Duffel Bag’

Michael H. Price Fort Worth Star-Telegram
 

If you should shell out money to see a picture called “8 Heads in a Duffel Bag,” and then find the thing outside the boundaries of tastefulness, you’d have no one to blame but yourself.

What you see is what you get with this peculiar movie, from its shock-value title to a morally compromised “happy” ending. It doesn’t always work, as a consequence of Andy Comeau’s indecisive romantic-lead performance, and of the overuse of the title objects as props. But when Joe Pesci is on, the film rocks.

Pesci plays a retirement-bound mobster who must deliver the severed heads of eight enemies to his boss (Howard George) as proof of a successful kill. Pesci chooses a commercial flight, preferring to conduct business in sight of the authorities with some crudely effective methods of deception.

Pesci’s duffel bag, however, is identical to that carried by a medical student (Comeau) on holiday, and inevitably - one of the oldest gimmicks - each winds up with the other’s luggage.

No one does comical rage as well as Pesci. And although the role is hardly more than a retread of his most memorable mayhem (see Martin Scorsese’s “GoodFellas),” still this extended skit is can’t-miss-it stuff for any Pesci fan.

Newcomer Comeau fares less well. There are only so many variations on a horrified overreaction.

Screenwriter Tom Schulman directs with all the subtlety of an “I Love Lucy” episode. The broad-stroke style works best on a musical sequence, where Pesci dreams the heads are serenading him.

Pesci is so convincingly real as the quality-conscious professional killer, that you can’t help wishing the little weasel godspeed. If the title alone strikes you as offensive, if you resent the notion of a hired killer as a protagonist, then “8 Heads in a Duffel Bag” is not the movie for you.

xxxx “8 Heads in a Duffel Bag” Locations: Newport, Coeur d’Alene Cinemas, Post Falls Cinema Six Credits: Directed by Tom Schulman, starring Joe Pesci, Andy Comeau, David Spade Running time: 1:45 Rating: R

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