Film Review: Loosies

“Loosies” are what you call single cigarettes you can buy in New York bodegas, and that is about all you’ll really learn from this strenuously rambunctious effort.

To pay off his dead father’s gambling debts, Bobby (Peter Facinelli) finds himself in indentured servitude to Jax (Vincent Gallo), a hotheaded loan shark, and forced to become a pickpocket/petty thief. Along with his regular, brutal encounters with Jax, Bobby also has the law after him, for stealing the badge of Police Lieutenant Sully (Michael Madsen). As if his life weren’t fraught enough, a recent one-night stand with Lucy (Jaimie Alexander) has resulted in her pregnancy for this decidedly most un-paternal of dudes.

Facinelli produced and wrote the screenplay for Loosies, which, like so many other actor-induced vehicles (Brando’s self-directed One-Eyed Jacks being a prime example), has many scenes of him being beaten up, by Jax’s henchmen or Lucy’s bartender. Call it a kind of star-entitled martyrdom meant to guarantee audience empathy. Unfortunately, the film is such a random, cacophonous mess that the primary emotion evoked is stupefication. Although he starts off with a slickly clever montage of Bobby’s pickpocket techniques, director Michael Corrente tries to jab some jittery life into this with frenetic pacing and encouraging his actors to cartoonish extremes, but the characters, when not completely off-putting, are just uninteresting.

I’ve enjoyed Facinelli in Can’t Hardly Wait and “Nurse Jackie,” where he evinced an amusing egomaniacal comic flair, but he seems more of a character guy than a true lead, lacking the charismatic weight which could turn this movie into a fun, dark-edged romp. Alexander is pretty and shows some strength as Lucy, but what she’s given to do is shoddy stuff. Marianne Leone as Rita, Bobby’s mother, acts with a mistimed intensity that doesn’t quite match up to the rest of the performances. As her love interest, a savvy jeweler named Carl, to whom Bobby takes an instant aversion, Joe Pantoliano gives a measured performance that is the film’s best, but also somehow seems out of place. Madsen has little to do but huff and grump, along with his police superior, a very wasted William Forsythe. As for Gallo, guess what? He’s weird and manic and out-of control: quel stretch.