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Poolhall Junkies Review

By Michael Murphy 02/28/2003

As you all may know, I am only one person, and between seeing movies, watching TV shows, listening to CD's, and trying to still have a life, I can't check out everything.  That is why I always appreciate the contributions of others.  It also allows me to give you readers a different perspective other than my own.  Michael Murphy, a writer for DVDTipSheet.com, has emailed me a copy of his review of Poolhall Junkies, and from his review, the movie looks really cool.  I will have to take him to task for his comments about the Geek God Kevin Smith though!


After leaving the screening for Poolhall Junkies, I was overcome by an uncontrollable urge to play pool immediately.  The film actually gave me pool muscles, just like beer muscles, but instead of getting my a** kicked by a bouncer at the end of the night, I got my tail handed to me by my wife.  I’m actually pretty good at shooting stick, but I was convinced that I was much better than I really was after seeing the incredibly cool trick-shots in Poolhall Junkies.  So I didn’t take my time and my wife, who has played a total of 2 times, beat me straight out in a game of 8-ball.


But that’s the kind of movie Poolhall Junkies is.  It gets you revved up man.  Not many movies get me that pumped.  I’m talking ultra-motivational flicks like Rocky, The Cincinnati Kid, Spartacus, Hoosiers, Vision QuestRad!  Okay, maybe Rad didn’t pump everyone else as it did me, but I actually broke my collar bone trying to recreate on of Cru Jones’s many fabulous BMX freestyle moves after seeing that movie for the first time.  Why?  Because the characters in these movies are so good at something so cool that you want to – no, need to - be that cool as well.  So you convince yourself that you’re that cool, and for some reason, that you possess the same cool abilities.  Then reality sets in and you just dropped 3 straight games of 8-ball to your wife.  An in your face welcome back to reality slap in the face!


Directed by and starring Gregory ‘Mars’ Martin, Poolhall Junkies treads the following plot line; boy is really good at pool, boy’s girlfriend doesn’t want him playing pool because of violent pitfalls, boy agrees to put pool behind him, but boy’s kid brother gets in deep with local mobster, so boy has to come back and play pool to get the money needed to bail out brother.  In a nutshell that is the plot of Poolhall Junkies, but it’s a plot that works well for many reasons.


First, Chazz Palminteri plays the heavy, Joe, a local mobster who taught our hero, Johnny Doyle (Martin), everything he knows about hustling.  And as we all know, Chazz makes every movie view worthy.  His portrayal is strong, and he demands attention every time he steps on the screen.


Second, Chris Walken plays Uncle Mike, a rich retired lawyer whose niece (Alison Eastwood), is dating Joe.  And as every one also knows Christopher Walken makes every movie a must-see.  His character is one of those guys you just love.  He’s rich and cocky, but his heart is planted deeply in the right place.  Walken’s scenes with Palminteri pull you right into the pool hall.  Two great acting legends going head-to-head, who could ask for more?


Third, the movie is about pool, so there are tons of mind-boggling trick shots, massé’s and banks.  The cue ball comes off the table in this flick as much as a ping-pong ball does in a match between China and Japan.  There are some great shots where the camera is placed above the pool table and we see every shot in sequence from break to the sinking of the 9-ball.  Big surprise to look out for as well is Rick Schroder, who looks like a damn good pool player.  His stance and stroke are pretty solid.


And finally, the dialogue is so good that I truly believe people will be quoting from this film as long as the world’s supply of slate, felt and chalk exists.  Believe me, you’ve got plenty of cheesy young-adult sex quotes that are so old you almost want to walk out of the theatre, but hey, if Kevin Smith can get away with every one of his films being infested by old, used humor and analogies, then why shouldn’t Gregory Martin?  True!  I’m even ready to tread the line of blasphemy by putting the quotes in Poolhall Junkies right up there with - dare I say...dare, dare – Goodfellas.


Many critics are calling this one of the best pool movies ever, but I put it second to The Hustler, and that’s out of respect for Jackie Gleason, who was one of the best pool players ever.  But let me also say that Poolhall Junkies has a colossal lead over all other pool films, especially The Color of Money.  Pool is a game that is associated with hustlers, booze and dank, smoky pool halls, and Poolhall Junkies embraces that ideal.

Ratings System:


Catch this movie at the theater if you can...

Wait until it comes out on video...

Wait until it plays on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc...

Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!

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