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8 Heads in a Duffel Bag
1997 - R - 94 Mins.
Director: Tom Schulman
Producer: John Bertolli, Brad Krevoy, Steve Stabler
Written By: Tom Schulman
Starring: Joe Pesci, Andy Comeau, Dyan Cannon, David Spade, George Hamilton
Review by: John Ulmer
   

I'm not in this scene, am I?
"8 Heads in a Duffel Bag" is what you should look at if you ever think Joe Pesci is unstoppable. You should also see "Gone Fishin" for that matter. Not that the movie doesn't have its moments, but on a level of film as a whole it just does not quite deliver as many laughs as it should. It's not an awful comedy, but it's not a particularly fine one, either.

I have a great respect for Joe Pesci is an actor, from his character Tommy DeVito in "Goodfellas" to Leo Getz in "Lethal Weapon" 2-4. He's just as funny as ever here, but the material he uses is not quite as funny as it could and should have been.

Joe Pesci plays a gangster named Tommy Spinelli, whose current job is to deliver the heads of eight powerful gangsters to a man in San Diego who will accept them as evidence that their owners are dead.
Unfortunately, Pesci's duffel bag is switched at an airport with an identical bag owned by Charlie (Andy Comeau, who is heading to Mexico for vacation with his fiancee. What he doesn't know is that his fiancee, Laurie (Kristy Swanson), is no longer sure she wants to marry him. Under the influence of her alcoholic mother (Dyan Cannon) and deeply tanned father (George Hamilton), she has changed.
Spinelli has exactly 24 hours to find the eight heads. Using clues in Charlie's bag, he visits Charlie's fraternity house and tortures two of his frat brothers (David Spade and Todd Louiso) to find out Charlie's vacation plans. (Which is a funny scene, in which Spinelli makes the two kids put on their stethoscopes and bangs the metal pieces together, hurting their ears. Needless to say, they talk.)
Meanwhile, in Mexico, Charlie has discovered the heads in his bag. Spinelli and the fraternity brothers fly to Mexico for the climax, which involves at one point a bunch of heads along with arguing about whether it's murder if you thaw out a cryogenically-frozen person.

Joe Pesci holds this movie together on his own. The other characters don't seem to be very dimensional, and while Pesci's Spinelli isn't as deep as, say, Tommy DeVito from "Goodfellas," his streak of humor makes up for this.

"8 Heads in a Duffel Bag" should have worked better than it does. On (most) occasion(s) the laughs cease to exist, but when they are there, they can be quite funny, if a bit contrived. Disappointing, but at the same time nice for a night in.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

 
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