Hey, cops can have girlfriends too.
Robert De Niro plays Wayne, a timid Chicago cop sarcastically nicknamed “Mad Dog.” He saves a gangster name Frank (Bill Murray)’s life and as payback, Frank “gives” Wayne his beautiful bartender Glory (Uma Thurman). However, when the two fall in love, then Wayne realizes he may have to fight-off Frank from his girl.
Let’s just put it like this: this is a weird-ass movie. From the beginning, you feel like you know how this one is going to play-out but as time goes on, and as the story progresses more and more, it changes up a whole lot and you never know where it’s going to go. That’s a lot of fun whenever you’re sitting-down and watching a movie and it’s that element of film-making that movies had nowadays but somehow, just don’t. Maybe Hollywood gets in the way, maybe stars get in the way, or hell, maybe movies are just running out of any original ideas that are worth showing on-screen. But either way, watching a movie and having no idea where it’s going to go from frame-to-frame is a hell of a lot of fun and it’s even better when you have a cast like this.
The movie’s casting may have it seem like a bit of a stunt where De Niro is playing the meek, sensitive-type that takes random pictures of life, whereas Bill Murray is playing the tough, unpredictable gangster that you don’t whether or not you should trust, or be totally scared-of. It seems like a total switcheroo and believe it or not, De Niro was actually offered the role of Frank, before he even knew about the role of Wayne, but he turned it down, just so he could show the world that he can in-fact, play a nice and sweet guy that doesn’t stomp on people’s heads. De Niro, in an obvious-effort to change the way his career was being viewed upon at during that time, took the role of this simple-minded, nice guy and does a great job with it, mainly because De Niro dials it back insanely.
Usually, when you see an actor/actress trying their hardest to play against-type, they usually go overboard with playing it cheap and subtle, you know, just so people don’t associate them with the other dozen similar roles that they have played in the past. In an effort to not be distracting, it actually ends-up becoming distracting and in full-effect, it’s a bit bothersome when you watch the performance and judge it as a whole. However, De Niro isn’t like that here as Wayne and really just seems to playing himself, but a more simpler, kinder-self of his and it shows that the guy can play these types of roles and make us care about him even more. Wayne is obviously a very small man, in a very, very big world and you kind of feel bad for him after awhile, mainly because you know that he’s going to get his heart ripped-out sooner or later and all you can do is just sit there and wait for it. I loved this small, tiny performance from De Niro and now that it seems like he’s getting his career back on-track with the Silver Linings Playbook, I can only hope to the Movie Gods, that he ends-up going back down this career-path and making some smart-choices. Or, he could just go back and do another Meet the Parents movie. His choice, not mine.
It should almost go without saying that Bill Murray is a freakin’ blast to watch in any movie he does, but that’s especially the case here as Frank, the sadistic and mean gangster that you just can’t help but love. This is a perfect piece of against-type casting not just because Murray has never played a role like this before, but mostly because he absolutely never lets you forget that he hasn’t and is at least having a bunch of fun with it, in the meantime. Murray never loses his sense of humor (Frank is a part-time gangster, part-time comedian) and always allows himself to be on the butt-end of a joke whenever it suits the script. Whenever he gets dangerous, it is actually pretty scary to watch because you never quite know what this guy is going to do next, but that’s the whole fun of watching Murray in this type of role, and just watching Murray in general. He’s always surprising us and always keeping us on-edge. That’s the beautiful thing about Bill Murray and I don’t think it will ever stop.
Uma Thurman does a nice-job as Glory, the gal that Frank hires to keep Wayne some company for a week, but when you put her next to these two actors, she sort of sticks out like a sore-thumb. I mean, that’s not saying that Thurman isn’t good, because she’s very good at playing this sympathetic, and vulnerable girl that just wants to do the right thing, but when you have two stars like Murray and De Niro absolutely knocking homers out of the park with all they can do, then it becomes pretty obvious who the script had in mind when it was first being-developed. It also probably doesn’t help that Glory’s story could have been developed a bit more to have us care more for her, along with Wayne, but in essence, we just end-up caring more for Wayne and a little bit for Glory.
However, that’s where the tone of this movie comes in and ultimately, it’s weirdness as well. What makes this movie so weird is that it continues to change it’s tone and pace every time a scene switches. One second you’ll have a police drama, next second you’ll have a black comedy, then the next second you’ll have a gangster flick, and then the next second, you’ll have a romance movie, and so on, and so forth. Basically, you can never pin-point exactly where the hell this movie is going to end-up, how, and when, but you don’t really care because it’s always fun, it’s always entertaining to watch, and it’s always making you laugh.
The only aspect of this movie that I don’t think was as strong as everything else, was in-fact, the romance between Wayne and Glory. See, we’re supposed to believe that these two random pieces of crap would, by sure chance, fall in-love over this one week together where they do nothing but hang-around, have awkward sit-downs while watching television, and even awkward trips to the bed (if you catch my drift). However, when they’re romance seems to face a bit of a problem with Frank wanting Glory back, you don’t really care all that much, mainly because the movie doesn’t really seem to have you believe that these two opposites, would indeed fall in-love and fight for it no matter what. There even comes a point where I felt like it was all a part of Wayne’s wild-imagination to be some sort of plot contrivance, but in reality, it wasn’t and the movie really was THIS serious about the actual love between the two. Other than a very realistic and honest sex scene the two have, Wayne and Glory’s romance never fully catches fire and the only reason why you want them to continue with one another, is just so Frank can come in and screw everything up for them and add even more enjoyment to our viewing. Hey, what can ya say? We all love Bill Murray!
Consensus: Mad Dog and Glory is as weird as they come, and if you can handle the non-stop changes in tone and pace, then this one will definitely be a treat for you, but even if you can’t handle that aspect, just sit-back and watch the amazing performances from Bill Murray and Robert De Niro who both play against-type, but quite perfectly, may I add.