Johnny Doyle: Gregory “Mars”
Joe: Chazz Palminteri
Mike: Christopher Walken
Written (with Chris Corso) and directed
by Gregory “Mars” Martin
For the longest time, I’d run into friends from high school and, as is normal in my conversation methods, I asked
them if they had seen any good movies. They always said the same thing. “Poolhall Junkies.” For a
good year or so, it never failed. The same question always got the same answer. I put off seeing the movie for a while, but when the opportunity came up to check
out the movie from the library, I took it.
This will be my least popular review with that group of friends. Poolhall
Junkies has nothing to sing praises about. It features a below average actor
(Mars Martin) at the helm of the whole thing, slowly doing his best Ben Affleck impression (and failing) as a pool hustler
with a chip on his shoulder. The writing the same actor completed with friend
Chris Corso is average at best and doesn’t really deserve the talent that it drew.
But the talent is the film’s biggest asset and despite the film following the stint in the life of Johnny Doyle:
Pool Hustler, the best part is the lives around him.
Johnny Doyle was taken in by Joe (Chazz Palminteri), who taught him the game of pool, as a young teen. Johnny was set to join the ranks of the pros, but Joe tossed out the letter of invitation to join the professional
Johnny doesn’t find out about how he was slighted until he is an adult, hustling trash talkers in dank pool halls
around the city. Joe still controls him, backs him…yells at him, but when
Johnny figures out Joe ruined his life, he cuts ties with him.
He tries to go legit and work a construction job so his lawyer girlfriend, Tara, (Alison Eastwood) will relax, but
soon his reputation as a hustler ruins that job. Before long he meets up with
a game he cannot refuse: working with Mike (Christopher Walken), a suit at a lawyer party he was dragged to with the same
skills in the game of pool to beat Tara’s wallet-heavy boss.
Backtracking, Johnny’s little brother Danny (Michael Rosenbaum of TV’s Smallville) is hustling too and
running with friends who like to do the same. When Danny loses against a pro
(Rick Schroder) backed by Joe and doesn’t have the money to settle, he tries to rob the neighborhood pawnshop and gets
collared. Johnny must get the money to pay off Joe and become the pool player
he was always born to be.
It’s an okay story and if it was told better, I might have liked it more.
Instead, the only real redeeming qualities are the work of the always great Christopher Walken and Rod Steiger playing
the owner of the Doyle’s favorite poolhall. That’s about it. It’s not an awful film. But perhaps
what struck me so much was the waste of the talent available.
Mars Martin is not anything special. He, again, is not awful, but is also
way below the line of talent needed to carry an entire film. I cringed a lot
during his performance.
So, I didn’t really dig the film. I did like that it appeared like
Martin did all his own shots, sometimes going on tears that made him look like a professional pool player. If that was all that was required of him, it might have worked. But
he had a character to play too. And he wasn’t very professional at that.