Case Number 04504: Small Claims Court


MGM // 1996 // 93 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 28th, 2004

The Charge

Look at all the famous people.

The Case

The 1996 dark comedy/gangster movie boasts a cast that reads like an invitation list to a small cable awards show: Jeff Goldblum, Richard Dreyfuss, Ellen Barkin, Gabriel Byrne, Diane Lane, Gregory Hines, Kyle MacLachlan, Burt Reynolds, and even Richard Pryor makes an appearance. Either everyone owed director Larry Bishop a huge favor or he had incriminating Polaroids on all of them; because, frankly, the movie doesn't really strike me as something alluring enough to woo all these famous faces.

Mickey Holiday (Goldblum) is an ace hitman, the quickest draw in town, and a feared killer. He's legendary for dealing out death in bizarre duels (the contestants sit at desks and face each other) and courting dangerous women.

One such conquest is Grace Everly (Lane), better half of notorious mob boss Vic (Dreyfuss) who is about to be released from the mental ward after a stint of going looney tunes. Vic is renowned for his short fuse, willingness to act on that short fuse, and killing people. As such, there are lots of jittery folks out there.

First, is Holiday himself, who obviously holds some concerns, since news of his boinking Vic's girlfriend is public domain. The only leverage he has against his toe tag is the fact only he knows where Grace is. However, Vic has hired new gun Nick, even quicker on the draw, who is eyeing Holiday as another notch on his pistol grip.

Second is Ben London (Byrne), the acting chief, who one day sees himself on top. To accomplish this goal, he has to make nice, even though his feelings for Vic are mixed to say the least.

Third, are Vic's rivals, Jacky Jackson (Reynolds) and Jake Parker (MacLachlan). Both would like to see Vic out of the way, so they can move in and fill in the power vacuum.

Everyone else is, basically, in continual danger of being shot for the sake of having someone shot onscreen (there was a reason this movie was originally titled "Trigger Happy.)"

I wish I had more to offer you in the way of plot, but that's pretty much it. There's some conflict between Grace Everly and her sister Rita (Barkin), as both have knocked boots with Holiday. Other than that, Mad Dog Time is an ocean of big names, recognizable faces, stilted dialogue, and dull pacing.

There really is not much point to the movie. That's what I'm saying. The atmosphere was unique, and I enjoyed it, but all that happened within this atmosphere was useless. Or clichéd. Ooh, the mob boss's right-hand man wants to take over...oooh, wow!!!

As a gangster movie, Mad Dog Time lacked the action and interesting characters common to the genre. The movie also went for a noir feel, but it lacked the twists and turns present in those films, too. Just to make sure he covered all of the bases available, writer/director Larry Bishop tried to mix in some dark comedy that just ended up giving the whole thing a real surreal flavor.

So, to sum up: Mad Dog Time wasn't gripping or thrilling or interesting or funny. Any questions?

The disc presentation is flat, lifeless, and pointless, like the feature it contains. The video is a disappointing full-frame. The movie comes with a 5.1 mix, always worth a kudo or two, though this film featured no scenes to push your sound system. The trailer makes up the special features.

Review content copyright © 2004 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 60

Perp Profile
Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Trailer

* IMDb