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Movie review: 'White Irish Drinkers'

With hopelessly regimented emotional beats and by-the-numbers storytelling, this film is a profane love letter to growing up in 1970s Brooklyn.

March 25, 2011|By Robert Abele
  • Nick Thurston and Leslie Murphy in "White Irish Drinkers.
Nick Thurston and Leslie Murphy in "White Irish Drinkers. (Brian Everett Francis /…)

"White Irish Drinkers" might be writer-director John Gray's profane, boisterous, blood-spattered love letter to growing up in '70s Brooklyn, but its truer and more regrettable connection is to the rampant Scorsese mimicry that characterized early-'90s indie calling cards.

You know the kind: movies where young guys with glaringly obvious life choices — here, it's whether kind-eyed, wisecracking, big-dreaming Brian (Nick Thurston), who paints secretly in the basement, should escape the influence of his boozy, violent father (Stephen Lang) and abusive, criminal older brother (Geoffrey Wigdor) — instead get stuck in dumb schemes that strain sympathies, not to mention one's tolerance for overstuffed Noo Yawk accents coming at you like aural 3-D.

Gray has a long television background, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It might explain the hopelessly regimented emotional beats and by-the-numbers storytelling; it also colors his valiant attempts to make dialogue zing, and give the film's women — Brian's beleaguered mom (Karen Allen) and firecracker hook-up (Leslie Murphy) — more offbeat shadings.

Still, the clichés are what make "White Irish Drinkers" a drearily predictable bout, so much so that the decent last-round plot twist that momentarily dazes is immediately undercut by the sappy, life-changing-fuh-EV-uh jab telegraphed from the beginning.


"White Irish Drinkers." MPAA rating: R for pervasive language, some sexuality and violence. Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes. At the ArcLight Hollywood; Laemmle's Town Center 5, Encino; and Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex, Santa Monica.

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