A very much confused Freshman

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It’s been a while since I was asked to watch a mob movie. After all the talk about “The Godfather” (which I still haven’t seen), most of the films I’ve viewed recently are sports related with plenty of ups and downs. Following the fantastic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” Dan decided to give me another Matthew Broderick movie.

“The Freshman,” while entertaining at points, suffers from one major flaw: it’s confusing tone. Clark Kellogg (seems familiar…) is a college student from Vermont who heads to NYU and an area that he does not understand. After not following his own advice and losing basically everything, he comes into the services of Carmine Sabatini. Now I haven’t seen really any Marlon Brando films but he was great in this role as he gave off both an intimidating mobster boss while also a comedic voice and rhythm.

Now even in that first 20 minutes or so, you as the viewer are kind of confused on what this is supposed to be. It seems funny early on but then gets increasingly dark for a bit and you start thinking it’s a drama. But then Clark will be forced to transport a Komodo dragon which makes it funny again before then feeling like he cannot get out of an illegal “mobster’s” grasp.

And as the movie continues, the viewer becomes confused over what is going on as everyone goes crazy about the work Clark is doing for Carmine and, without knowing it, is engaged to his daughter. While this is somewhat humorous, I felt stuck trying to figure out what was going on.

Now as you get closer to the ending, it all starts to make some sense. Spoilers: It’s all an elaborate scheme to scam people including corrupt federal agents. But while this does explain the confusing plot, it also makes the questionable tone that much more of an issue. Is this supposed to be a mystery or a comedy?

I’m sure people will say I just do not get it or that I am too young to understand but the fact is the movie does not seem to know what it is. I have only seen parts of “Analyze This” but even in those scenes, I could tell that it was supposed to be a comedy. But the more I watched “The Freshman,” the more confused I became. And it doesn’t help that the film moves at a snail’s pace.

In the end, it is not a terrible movie or anything like that. There are plenty of funny characters and scenes as well as a running joke about where Clark is from. But instead of being a movie I may watch again, “The Freshman” is a one-time viewing. Sure it was nice to watch a Marlon Brando movie and have a more up-tight Matthew Broderick but the tone and direction really killed this comedy. When it comes to humor, never overthink.

+ Danny Reiter, Producer of the Dan Sileo Show

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