A terrific little comedy, as well as a showcase for screenwriter Richard Price’s incomparable ear for dialogue.Robert De Niro is Wayne, a timid Chicago cop sarcastically nicknamed “Mad Dog.” Bill Murray is Frank, a gangster and part-time aspiring stand-up comic whose life Wayne saves. As payback, Frank “gives” Wayne his beautiful bartender Glory (Uma Thurman); when the two fall in love, Wayne tries to figure out a way to get Glory out of Frank’s clutches.
Half the movie’s appeal is its casting against type — not only De Niro as a wimp and Murray as a ruthless goombah, but also director John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) making a mainstream Hollywood romantic comedy (though it does have its violent moments). Mostly, as in the similarly overlooked Night and the City and Kiss of Death, it’s Richard Price’s world. He’s great on the callous jokes cops make to maintain their detachment at crime scenes, even better on confrontation (“Fuck you, and who are you?”), and perhaps best of all on the quiet, hesitant moments between Wayne and his new friends Frank and Glory. (Frank: “You married?” Wayne: “Not personally, no.”)The ending is unrealistic and a bit of a cop-out, but chances are you won’t care.