Vin Diesel; still really cute

Prepare for the return of everyone’s favorite baldy. Packing some neat tricks, though in a contrived plot, Vin Diesel returns in the film Knockaround Guys.

Despite being the son of a notorious Brooklyn mobster and prince of the criminal dynasty, Matt Demaret (Barry Pepper), is incapable of the swift terror necessary for the carefully structured organized crime ring. Anxious to gain his father’s respect, the aspiring gangster struggles to obtain legitimacy within “the family” with a pitiful amount of success until his Uncle Teddy (John Malkovich) secures him a job retrieving half a million dollars from Spokane, Wash.

After losing the cash to a couple of pre-teen stoners and a greedy, corrupt sheriff, Matt and his three comical friends form an inept team of amateur gangsters and manage to tangle themselves in a deadly web of deceit, violence and stupidity. While attempting to join the ranks of Brooklyn’s organized crime ring, the gang of four finds themselves stranded in a stereotypical Midwest, town resembling the New Kids on the Block more closely than any division of the Mafia.

The casting resembles a typical boy band. You’ve got the calm, coolheaded guy Matt, the tough, crowbar-wielding, pistol-packing bad boy Taylor (Vin Diesel), the suave, sheltered ladies man Scarpa (Andrew Davoli) and the coke-snorting clown, who loses the money in the first place, Johnny Marbles (Seth Green).

While the plot is horrendous and more unimaginative than the 37th season of 90210, and the cinematography lacks any creative innovations, the film emits a strangely amusing and charming aura.

Perhaps the Fargo-like Midwestern setting and characters juxtaposed with fumbling city slickers and bitter tattooed thugs salvaged what otherwise would be your usual gangster movie, complete with the grating, phony Brooklyn accents.

Despite the less-than-stellar story line, New Line Cinema serves up a talented cast of Knockaround Guys who just might refuse to quit after they’re down for the count.

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