In case you’ve been living under a rock, our man Dan Sileo is Italian. And of course he never makes us forget that with plenty of mannerisms and sayings that further illustrate his “heritage.” So it’s never surprising when Dan makes me watch a movie that in some way centers on Italian culture. There have been plenty of good ones including “Goodfellas” and “The Godfather,” but where does “The Pope of Greenwich Village” rank?
The answer: not too far off. The film focuses on Charlie and his idiot cousin Paulie as they try to scrape by. Charlie already has a son with his ex while also impregnating his current girlfriend. Although it seems like he tries to be responsible, the young man actually has a major anger problem and really isn’t a good guy. Paulie, on the other hand, is a complete moron. He never seems to think through his plans and also does not comprehend the consequences of his actions. I mean what could go wrong?
Well when Paulie buys a racehorse, he needs a lot of money to bet and after getting a tip from some mobsters, attempts to steal a lot of money from a very powerful figure. With both cousins as well as a likable criminal in Barney, they succeed in stealing Bed Bug Eddie’s money. Of course things don’t go as planned and a cop who’s, allegiance is hard to understand, shows up and unfortunately dies.
Now while the film really finds its tone and picks up from here, the actual way the cop died was confusing and stupid. He literally falls through a hole that we never really saw at any other point. While the impact is great, the moment felt cheap.
But I digress because the film actually finds its footing as things start crashing down on all the main characters. Barney flees the city as Paulie loses a thumb and of course rats out his cousin. The intensity really keeps you on your toes and reminds you of a lot of the strong mobster movies out there. While the ending was a little odd, the final portion of the movie is very strong.
The film’s greatest strength is its lead actors. Mickey Rourke is great as the suave yet easily unhinged Charlie while Kenneth McMillan’s Barney is a nice contrast to the rest of the characters. However the key is Eric Roberts as Paulie who you can tell means to do the right thing but is just so dumb that he doesn’t see where he goes wrong. Paulie is both an empathetic and idiotic character at the same time.
While I wouldn’t say “The Pope of Greenwich Village” reaches the heights of many classic mobster movies, it’s still a solid movie. The characters and tone create an interesting mix on the genre plus who does not love those Italian mannerisms. I have to say though I’m starting to wonder if Dan gets all of his cultural idiosyncrasies from these movies…