Flash Movie Review: Gangster Squad

Perched atop my father’s dresser was a chrome figurine of a woman, circa 1940’s. She was my introduction to the art deco era. I found the symmetry used in the architecture, the art, the fashion made perfect sense to my sensibilities. With items that had been handed down in the family, I would try to determine if they came from the art deco period. I found myself doing the same thing as I sat through this beautiful looking  movie. Set in Los Angeles in the late 1940’s, the set designs and costumes were perfectly recreated. When the production crews created the gorgeous sets, they probably had no idea their work would be covering up more than the bare walls of the movie studio’s sound stage. For what was behind the sets was a cartoon characterization of a gangster movie. The writers must have used Dick Tracy as a template in forming the screenplay that was inspired by a true story. The plot was about a small group of Los Angeles police officers; who were assigned the task of bringing down feared mob boss Mickey Cohen, played by Sean Penn (All the King’s Men, Fail Game). If I did not know better I would swear Sean Penn was portraying criminal Flat Top or Low Brow from the Dick Tracy cartoons. Yes Sean brought his intensity, but his dialog was so dreadful that it was laughable. Two of my favorite actors Ryan Gosling (Drive, Half Nelson) and Emma Stone (Easy A, The Help) had to have felt abused by the loony lines they were given, as Sgt. Jerry Wooters and Mickey’s girlfriend Grace Farraday. Josh Brolin (Men in Black 3, No Country for Old Men) was stiff as Sgt. John O’Mara. What a shame to have such a capable cast and give them an awful story and direction. I wish there had been a volume switch I could have shut off, because having no sound would have been the best way to watch this pretty foul movie. A note to the parents who brought young children into the theater: if you want your kids exposed to the art deco style, take them to a museum. Scenes of violence and blood.


1 3/4 stars

About moviejoltz

From a long line of movie afficionados, one brother was the #1 renter of movies in the country with Blockbuster, I am following in the same traditions that came before me. To balance out the long hours seated in dark movie theaters, I also teach yoga and cycling. For the past 3 years, I have correctly picked the major Oscar winners... so join me as we explore the wonder of movies and search for that perfect 4 star movie.

Posted on January 14, 2013, in Drama and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Turning the sound off is often a very good way to watch a movie. Gives another perspective. Sometimes, it’s also a good idea to close your eyes and listen to the dialogue and music. 🙂

  2. You said it better than I could, but I still say that watching Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone (there were times when it worked, just not enough) was almost worth it. Almost but not quite. My big complaint was that the best lines were in the previews.

  3. I can agree with your summation but I felt the goofiness gave it a little charm at times, granted that this was not often, yet the serious scenes did waver between a true noir and Dick Tracy more than I would have liked. Not a great movie by any stretch, but beautiful and enjoyable.

    Thank you for liking my work over at The Falling Man Writing Experiment! I always appreciate the approval!

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