'Laugh Killer Laugh': Film Review
William Forsythe plays a gangster who undergoes a bizarre personality shift in Kamal Ahmed's darkly comic crime drama
After its amusing opening credits that perfectly evoke '70s era exploitation films, the fun pretty much ends in this bizarre hybrid of gritty crime drama, wacky comedy and social commentary mainly notable for providing a juicy starring role for B-movie veteran William Forsythe. Written and directed by Kamal Ahmed, best known as a former member of the prank phone call-specializing comedy duo The Jerky Boys, Laugh Killer Laugh is DOA.
Forsythe, who's had a long career specializing in these sorts of roles, albeit often in better films, plays jewel thief/gangster Frank Stone, still clearly traumatized by his sexual abuse at the hands of the headmaster of the orphanage in which he was raised. These memories are evoked in a series of profane monologues delivered to the camera by Tom Sizemore, the garbled delivery of which is far more horrifying than anything Frank could have gone through.
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A taciturn loner widely reviled by his partners in crime, including the mob boss (Victor Colicchio) for whom he works, Frank finds his horizons expanded when he meets the outgoing, flirtatious Jackie (Bianca Hunter) and impulsively decides to crash the creative writing class she attends. Delivering his barely fictionalized accounts of his illicit activities to the group that includes the teacher (Robert McNaughton, the child star of E.T.) and a highly critical classmate (Kevin Corrigan, in a role far beneath his talents), he begins to blossom to the point where he and Bianca begin an awkward romance.
The film takes a bizarre turn in its final section when Frank—after suffering a brutal beating ordered by his crime boss who doesn't take kindly to his activities being discussed in public—experiences a striking personality change after waking up from a coma. He's transformed into an outgoing, positively ebullient figure, performing at a comedy club and giddily throwing water balloons off his roof.
Despite Forsythe's valiant efforts, none of this remotely works. The screenplay's drastic tonal shifts are not helped by the amateurish direction, photography and editing that renders the proceedings visually muddy and virtually incoherent.
In the film, Frank certainly adheres to the familiar credo about writing what you know. The filmmaker would have been far better off following a similar path.
Production: Seven Toro Productions
Cast: William Forsythe, Tom Sizemore, Bianca Hunter, Victor Colicchio, Larry Romano, Robert MacNaughton
Director/screenwriter: Kamal Ahmed
Producers: James Sferrazza, Kamal Ahmed, Rhonda Moore
Executive producers: James Sferrazza, Kamal Ahmedded
Director of photography: Tom Agnello
Editor: Alexander Kopit
Composer: Scott Hampton
Not rated, 100 min.