GUN SHY(director/written: Eric Blakeney; cinematographer:Tom Richmond; editor: Pamela Martin; cast: Liam Neeson (Charlie), Oliver Platt (Fulvio Nesstra), Jose Zuniga (Fidel Vaillar), Michael DeLorenzo (Estuvio), Andy Lauer (Jason Cane), Richard Schiff (Elliott), Paul Ben-Victor (Howard), Gregg Daniel (Jonathan), Ben Weber (Mark), Sandra Bullock (Judy Tipp), Mary McCormack (Gloria Nesstra), Michael Mantell (Dr. Bleckner), Mitch Pileggi (Dexter Helvenshaw), Frank Vincent (Carmine Minetti); Runtime: 102; Hollywood Pictures; 2000)
“Gun Shy is a zany mobster/comedy film about a lawman who is suffering from anxiety attacks and is in need of seeing a shrink.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
“Gun Shy” is a zany mobster/comedy film about a lawman who is suffering from anxiety attacks and is in need of seeing a shrink. Sometimes it succeeds in being mildly funny, like when the legendary DEA undercover agent Charlie Mayo (Liam Neeson) finds romance with a gastroenterologist’s nurse, Judy Tipp (Sandra Bullock), while she is giving him a barium enema. He has a chronic stomach problem, which is used as a running gag throughout. It was also amusing to see him in need of a psychiatrist (Mantell), who tells him “You need to share more than anyone I’ve ever known.” Liam talks his head off to the shrink, but really gets help when he joins a men’s group therapy session and bonds with them as they talk about how they hate their jobs. Liam opens up and tells them he is having second thoughts about his career in the DEA, as he is consumed with fear that he will be killed in his next undercover assignment. He feels vulnerable after the last operation went wrong. What Liam wants now is a place with an ocean view and early retirement after 18 years on the job.
On this current dangerous assignment, Liam helps in putting through a deal between the Colombian drug cartel’s queer son Fidel Vaillar (Jose Zuniga) and the Mafia don’s psychotic son-in-law, Fulvio (Oliver Platt). Fidel wants to money-launder the cartel’s drug money and needs Fulvio’s help. Fulvio has hired a yuppie Wall Street investor Jason Cane (Andy Lauer) to do the money-laundering and work a stock-fraud scheme. Liam as the undercover agent is caught in the middle, as he is the calm one who tries to keep each side from killing each other. His M.O. is that things are constantly going wrong for him, but they always turn out OK.
Everything is played for laughs; Fidel and Fulvio are cartoon figures with the only difference being Oliver Platt is funny and Jose Zuniga is seen as either being psychotic or preening, but he’s not funny. He is seen most of the time pouting over his bodyguard (DeLorenzo), who is his lover.
This is TV writer Eric Blakeney’s debut feature as director-writer, and he gets mixed reviews. The comedy was mild, the script was choppy, and the story had an inane charm to it but no more. The usually bland Liam Neeson had more of a flare for this type of farce than I thought he would have and Platt, in his inimical style, got off a few good one-liners, such as his “Fun is overrated.” Sandra Bullock, whose acting career is spinning ever-downward, had a small role that only required she look good in that oversized shirt she likes to always wear. She produced the film. Platt’s sarcastic wife (Mary McCormack) had a few zippy retorts, which she delivered in a heavy New York City accent, as she made her presence felt in her minor role.
Its nearest relative in gangster comedy films is “Analyze This“(Gun Shy was made before that film but released later), but this film didn’t have De Niro as its star to give it publicity.
The worst thing one can say about this film, is that it suffered from too much flatulence.
REVIEWED ON 6/28/2000 GRADE: C-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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