Not quite knowing what to expect, Pool Hall Junkies was alternatingly surprising and tedious. Unfortunately, I couldn't help but shake the feeling that had the film concentrated on the main character's younger brother and his band of rogues, everyone involved would have had a much better time.The main character of this film, Johnny Doyle as played by Mars Callahan, is a self absorbed, cocky and generally unsympathetic lout who happens to be very good at pool. Did I mention he was good at pool? Johnny is an amazing pool player. Callahan's character can really play a mean game of pool.
Do you see? No matter how many times I say it, it doesn't get anymore interesting, does it? Lacking a third dimension to make us truly care about anything other than his skills, Callahan the director and Callahan the actor really lets the audience down. Certainly, Johnny Doyle is entertaining to watch, as he dances from shot to shot, confidently sinking the tough shots while verbally whittling down his opponents. But aspects of his personal life - his relationship with his girlfriend, how he interacts with his younger brother - feel like nothing more than paper clothes for a paper doll.
Michael Rosenbaum offers us a much more interesting take as Danny Doyle, the hustler on the rise. Possessed not so much by the jaded cynicism of his sibling, but instead pulling off his scams with the force of his own brimming energy, Rosenbaum and his rag-tag gang of chumps and geeks reminded of an old Scooby-Doo episode. You know, the one where the ghost turned out to be old man Palminteri?
Walked slides into his role of the dispassionate, bemused millionaire like a tycoon into a pair of his favourite slippers. Delivering one of the best lines of the film, his reputation buoys him up and keeps him from drowning in the morass of mishandled plot.While the final hustle was memorable, taken in its entirety Pool Hall Junkies comes off as a student film project - lots of gusto, lots of desire, but not enough polish or editing. I wasn't disappointed, but you might be. Rent it.