8 Heads in a Duffel Bag
with Joe Pesci, Andy Comeau, Kristy Swanson, George Hamilton, Dyan Cannon
Written and directed by Tom Schulman
by Scott Hefflon
A self-proclaimed dumb movie, 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag exceeds its own expectations. It’s really dumb. And not in the wacky way it wishes. The head (sorry) bad dude, played by Joe Pesci, is probably the only redeeming aspect of this movie. And that ain’t saying a lot. Pesci’s been better, but with practically no one to bounce his lunacy off of, he does an admirable job. The rather interesting plot takes an expected twist when heartless gangsta Tommy Spinelli (Pesci) is commissioned to deliver 8 heads in a duffel bag (oh, didn’t see that coming, huh?) to some vengeful crime boss across the country in California. Then his luggage gets switched with the exuberant dipshit college dweeb sitting next to him on the plane. Yawn. Ah, but then Pesci tracks down the dweeb’s college frat brothers and finds humorous ways of torturing them until they talk. In the real world, that’s worth the price of admission. But this is the movies, and frat brothers (David Spade and Todd Louiso) aren’t jocko shitheads, they’re two of the most dynamic characters in the movie, under-developed or not. The scenes with the three of them are the best in the movie, so appreciate them while they last.
The other half of the plot revolves around the head-carrying dweeb (Comeau), his relationship with his yuppified girlfriend (Swanson), her too-cool, overly-tanned father (Hamilton), and his drunk, flaky wife (Cannon). The parents are great (in what little screen time they’re given), and big Daddy’s relationship with his mom (some tough, crabby bitch whose name I can’t remember) was one of the most refreshing surprises of the film. Neither of the college sweethearts leave any impression whatsoever, so the film falters, relying on its supporting cast to carry the weight of the plot. Luckily, they do. While I can’t say 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag was a good movie, I can applaud the smaller characters that, despite their limited roles, save this movie from being completely useless. Pesci (first and foremost), Hamilton, Cannon, Spade, Louiso, and the Grandmother were all memorable, and their combined efforts make a movie I’d rent again on dollar night when the shelves are mostly bare. But that’s just me.