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Poolhall Junkies

Starring: Mars Callahan, Chazz Palminteri, Rick Schroder, Rod Steiger, Alison Eastwood, and Christopher Walken.
Rated: R

Poolhall Junkies is just oozing with cool and style!

What's cooler than watching Christopher Walken and Chazz Palminteri in a pool hall volleying verbal swipes at one another? Discovering a multitalented actor/director named Mars Callahan in the middle! This Mars fellow is like a six-foot plus dreamy mansicle flavored with essence of John Cusack and Casey Affleck. Not only is he cinnabun sweet on the retina the guy's a good actor and he wrote and directed this delightfully hip shindig.

Story goes…Johnny (Mars Callahan) is a young au fait pool player. He's about fourteen and ready to take on the world with his game. He's a pool shark they've already dubbed "The Side Pocket Kid." But Johnny has a mentor. This mentor is a slithering grease ball named Joe (Chazz Palminteri). Joe sees it this way; he found John, trained him and backed him so he figures the "kid" is his.

We all move on fifteen years into the future and there's Johnny still hustling in pool halls. He earns a decent living but it's scamming, not circuit playing. Johnny always wanted to go pro but he never got the chance. Or did he?

Seems Joe's been holding the kid back all these years…and Johnny's wise to the guy, see.

They part ways and Johnny tries to work his way into society of the nine-to-five- worker bee. That last about five minutes and Johnny' back in the halls.

At a fancy soiree of the rich and powerful he meets a twinkle-eyed gent named Mike (Christopher Walken) with a passion for gambling and the bank roll to see pretty much any hand. Mike also happens to be the uncle of Johnny's gal Tara (Alison Eastwood).

Tara's a paralegal by day law student by night - strictly legit. She's none too keen on Johnny's profession. She wants a "normal" guy.

Long story short, Johnny's little brother Danny (Michael Rosenbaum) isn't as good with a cue stick and ends up in pretty deep financial crapola with recurring sleaztack Joe who is now wielding a new pool shooting crony named Brad (Rick Schroder).

The only way to get Danny boy out of troubleville is to have a showdown - Pool hall style - with Joe's player.

On the way to getting his brother out of the scrape Johnny may just find himself and be finally ready to follow his heart. Sniff. Johnny's turning point also happens to house the next legendary monologue of the 'Christopher Walken Impersonators Club of America' - trust me. This is Walken "doing" Walken and it's just classic!

Poolhall Junkies has an age old tried and true story line, yes, but director Mars Callahan had the great fortune of gathering Walken, Palminteri, Rick Schroder and dearly departed Rod Steiger for this electric film. The characters talk realistically without sounding like they're trying to be clever. That's a whole lot harder than it sounds, and it's thanks to the caliber of Callahan's whole ensemble of actors (down to "Danny's" goofy cohorts) that truly makes this film delightful.

Poolhall Junkies no doubt will be held up against legendary pool hall great, The Hustler (heck they even leave a poster of " Minnesota Fats" hangin' in da place and Johnny the pool shark spends the finale of the film in a Hustler tee) and/or the box office hit, The Color of Money. But you'd be wrong to dismiss Callahan and co-writer Chris Corso's screenplay as a remake typical hackfest rip-off. This rich fast paced picture stands firmly on its own film legs as a delightful drama filled with memorable characters that bubble with life. And kudos to the director of photography, Robert Morris, for giving the film its old fashioned feel within a modern world!

Even if you're not a big pool bar fan, believe me there's plenty of other wonderful tidbits to keep you amused as the pros involved slam the eight ball into the left pocket. Enjoy.

Snack recommendation: French fries and Jack Daniels

Blunt Aside: I also find it extremely cool that Chazz "Dick Tracy " Palminteri, who wrote and starred in his A Bronx Tale, has now basically done the same for a mini him named Mars Callahan. Swell and sweet? Bravo!

There's also a nice lack of chronic cigarette smoke in these folk's pool hall - another cool move!

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