DAY AT THE BEACH(director/writer: Nick Veronis; cinematography: Nils Kenaston; cast: Nick Veronis (Jimmy Hughes), Jane Adams (Marie), Patrick Fitzgerald (John), Paul Gleason (Detective Johnson ), Neal Jones (Chuck Hanson), Catherine Kellner (Amy), Joe Ragno (Antonio Gintolini), Ed Setrakian (Augie), Elizabeth Stearns (Real Estate Lady), Robert Maisonett (Herman); Runtime: 98; Arrow Releasing; 1998)
“This is mainly a comedy/thriller about a young New Yorker’s dream to make a gangster movie and of his love for a young girl, and his relationship with his friends.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This is mainly a comedy/thriller about a young New Yorker’s dream to make a gangster movie and of his love for a young girl, and his relationship with his friends. The story has a certain charm and a genuineness that shows through, as it moves seamlessly from comedy into suspense at the drop of a briefcase.
Jimmy Hughes (Veronis) is a luckless New York ravioli factory worker, who is shooting a film with fellow workers John (Patrick), Chuck (Neal), and Herman (Maisonett). When John mistakenly flings the only briefcase these amateur filmmakers have for the scene off the roof of a building, it fatally lands on a fisherman.
Nick Veronis makes his debut as actor/writer/director in this very refreshing story. He did it under the physical handicap from an accident suffered three days into shooting the movie, where he underwent tendon surgery and had to wear a splint on his hand for the rest of the film.
It’s a buddy movie and the buddies are all affable and seem like the sort of people you would see in real life and not on a Hollywood set. John talks with an Irish brogue and is the only one in the group married. John lives with his wife Marie (Jane Adams) and their child; Chuck is allergic to bees and wants desperately to avoid trouble, but mostly he wants to score with a girl. Chuck has this silly notion to get the former owner of the ravioli place to listen to his idea to market shaving creme that is the same color as the shaver’s beard; and, then there is Herman, a Hispanic, who takes the part as a bad guy for the film when another ravioli worker is kicked off the film.
When the police investigate the briefcase death: John is left guilt-ridden by the tragedy, while Jimmy is asked by the police to help them nail some gangsters they are investigating. Jimmy and the boys soon find out that the ravioli factory is a money-laundering place for the mob, and that their mean-spirited boss Augie (Ed) is involved in scams. Augie is also the father of Amy (Catherine), who is going out with Jimmy. Augie forbids Amy to go out with Jimmy, even going so far as to have Jimmy beaten up.
The finale comes when Jimmy and the crew (John and family, Chuck, & Amy), decide to get away from the city and go to the beach in Long Island; there, they run into the former owner of the ravioli place, Antonio Gintolini (Ragno). Antonio acts suspicious around his fancy new house in the Hamptons, but he invites all of them in and lets his hair down to tell John about his life yearnings and his failures and how he got to name the factory ‘Thursdays’ because that was the best days of his life in the small-town of Italy he was from. That is the arranged day he saw a prostitute.
The film offers many keen observations about how these young people react to the tight situation they are in and it examines in an amusing way their life-style and esprit de corps, but the story keeps coming back to Jimmy and how he is prepared to do anything to make his film; even if, it means stepping on a few toes of some gangsters.
This is an energetic black comedy, rife with incisive dialogue and the amateur look of an indie film that wants to be arty.
REVIEWED ON 12/3/99 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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