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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 17.65%
Pretty Bad: 35.29%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Went to Coney Island on a Mission From God...Be Back by Five
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by Jason Whyte

"A great title for a movie...even if it isn't very good."
2 stars

I never thought I'd find a film that could be described as Wes Anderson-lite, the kind of film that has shades of "Bottle Rocket" or "Rushmore" in terms of wacky characters and funny situations. "Went To Coney Island On A Mission From God...Be Back By Five" is the funniest and most clever title I have probably ever heard for a motion picture, however the picture inside is a near fatal mess. Besides some fine performances and some good dialogue, the film wanders, and wanders....

The story begins in the past, where we meet two childhood friends Stan and Daniel who have their own world together. Stan is the thrill-seeking one, always getting in trouble by using "We're on a mission from god" on the reserved Daniel.

Cut to present, where Stan and Daniel (Rick Stear and Jon Cryer, respectively) have word that one of their childhood friends, Ritchie (Rafael Baez) has lost all touch with life and is wandering, homeless, in Coney Island. Stan and Daniel then set out to find him, encountering many pit stops and interesting characters along the way.

At first, "Coney Island" works with interesting dialogue between Cryer and Stear, and some very low-key cinematography that works (very grim and pale fall weather). However, as things start opening up, things begin to fumble. The major problem with "Coney Island" are the tangents the film moves on. We keep getting sidetracked at the exact moments that the film should be moving along. There's a scene about midway through the film where Stan and Daniel meet a sad man in a diner, he tells his story about his lover's troubles, then his lover shows up and they share a long scene together. The setup and delivery by both of them are fine, but they are in the wrong movie. It isn't about them.

Another fiasco involves an overlong sequence where Stan and Daniel enter a freak show exhibit on the Coney boardwalk. These segments drag on to the point of frustration, and the payoff is abrupt and swift, which almost renders the entire sequence pointless.

Another scene of interest comes with a Skeeball operator (Frank Whaley) who gives this long speech about a single skeeball ticket that would be funny in another film. Shenkman seems so interested in whoever is around Stan and Daniel, and yet that's what the story is about. Or is it about Ritchie? Ritchie's revelation is quite a shocker, and I think the film would have been more interesting had it been told from his perspective, and Stan and Daniel had become the supporting characters that tried to rescue him.

I hate to be so hard on a film that seems to have had a rough time on distribution, but its inherent flaws are so noticeable. "Coney Island" could be summed up by one of the characters speaking about the experience at a reception: "We went to Coney Island on a mission from God. Nothing much really happened..."

Side note: There's an incredible song by the band Girlfriend called "Lost Point" that plays over the end credits. Please stay and listen as it is a very beautiful song. Or you can download it at

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 08/20/03 04:13:41
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User Comments

1/14/02 Andrew Carden Quite Good...An Example Of Nice Quality To All Film-Makers. 4 stars
3/12/01 Emil Slovak A unideal and uplifting parable to the human condition 4 stars
1/07/01 cgrayson Raw and clean drama; a well-told tale. 4 stars
9/17/00 siro Nothing new to see here, although it does have its moments. 3 stars
9/10/00 LarsAttacks Straightforward but compelling drama/comedy 3 stars
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Directed by
  Richard Schenkman

Written by
  Richard Schenkman
  Jon Cryer

  Jon Cryer
  Ione Skye
  Frank Whaley
  Rick Stear
  Rafael Baez
  Peter Gerety

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