Mad Dog Time

on November 08, 1996 by Dwayne E. Leslie
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   The actor credit scroll for this UA pickup could really have been prefaced "in order of disappearance." Key characters are killed off so fast in "Mad Dog Time" that an audience can be forgiven for wondering who (if anyone) is going to be left onscreen by movie's end. Offbeat humor spliced with full-face shots and slow motion coupled with a high-caliber cast make Larry Bishop's writing/directing debut worthy of the ticket price. As an added bonus, Bishop's friends come to his aid by way of cameos; among those momentary and varied players are Richard Pryor, Rob Reiner and Paul Anka. The film also pays homage to the original Rat Pack (of which Bishop's father, Joey Bishop, was a member) by including in its jazzy soundtrack tunes from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.
   After a lengthy stay at a mental hospital, mobster Vic (Richard Dreyfuss) is being released. In his absence, "Brass Balls" London (Gabriel Byrne) has taken over control of the operation. Now, though, it's time for Vic not only to reconcile differences with his wife (Ellen Barkin) but to act like a mad dog and reclaim control of his empire. Vic's rivals can walk, hop or crawl away peacefully, but challenging him could prove to be fatal.
   Bishop succeeds in creating a timeless period movie; the audience is transported to a place and time that might be called Vic's World. There are resemblances to the prohibition era, but the accents are those of contemporary technology. Patrons might not fully understand what they just watched--"Mad Dog Time" straddles the borderlines of the art-house and mainstream--but most should agree it's enjoyable. Holding the enterprise together are the suspense, tension and cunning humor supplied by Vic's right-hand man, Mickey Holliday (Jeff Goldblum). Goldblum fans are sure to have a fun time watching their favorite quirky actor turn into a suave--and forehead-shooting--playboy. Starring Jeff Goldblum, Richard Dreyfuss, Gabriel Byrne, Ellen Barkin and Larry Bishop. Directed and written by Larry Bishop. Produced by Judith Rutherford James. A UA release. Comedy. Rated R for violence, language and sexuality. Running time: 93 min.
Tags: Larry Bishop, period piece, mobsters, Richard Dreyfuss, Gabriel Byrne, Ellen Barkin, Richard Pryor, Rob Reiner, Paul Anka
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