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Poolhall Junkies
cast: Mars Callahan, Chazz Palminteri, Rick Schroder, Alison Eastwood, and Christopher Walken

writer and director: Mars Callahan

94 minutes (15) 2003 EV VHS retail
Also available to buy on DVD

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
Johnny (Mars Callahan) could have been a pro pool player, but his slimy manager Joe (Chazz Palminteri) sabotaged his chances, preferring to keep him as a poolhall hustler, playing amateurs for cash. By the time Johnny finds out, he's in his thirties, and the only way out is to screw Joe over and try to go straight. The real world is tough, and the hostility of his rich girlfriend's family doesn't help. But the real danger to Johnny's reformation is his little brother Danny (Rick Schroder) and his waster buddies, who all want to be hustlers too. Soon Joe has Danny in debt and in jail, and the only way Johnny can save him is to take on Joe's hotshot new player, playing for his freedom and his life...
   The plot of Poolhall Junkies may be indistinguishable from every other hustler movie you've ever seen, but this flashy, energetic movie is a cut above average. Fine performances from the main cast, and a showy cameo from Christopher Walken, enliven the action scenes, and Danny and his gang, endlessly bantering in the local diner, bring a touch of humour to the proceedings.
   Director/co-writer/actor Callahan's direction is snappy and effortlessly cool, making the pool scenes both exciting and comprehensible to the non-player. Occasional outbreaks of awkward voiceover suggest he had more difficulty with the writing, but overall, the script is hip, funny and involving, with a good range of interesting characters - though judging by this movie, there isn't a single female pool player anywhere in America...
   Poolhall Junkies is a smart, enjoyable little movie that will keep you amused and engrossed throughout its deceptively short running time. It's definitely one to look out for.

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