Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Alec Baldwin, Michael Madsen, Shannen Doherty, Annabella Sciorra, Danny Glover, William DeMeo, Lillo Brancato, Joseph D'Onofrio, Paul Borghese, Louis Lombardi, Mike Tyson
Written by: William DeMeo
Directed by: Paul Borghese
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 121
Date: 05/20/2016
IMDB

Back in the Day (2016)

1 Star (out of 4)

Brooklyn Glitch

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

William DeMeo stars, writes, and produces this well-meaning, heartfelt boxing drama, but even with a great cast, the movie is too long, painfully overwritten, amateurish, and embarrassingly awkward. To start, Back in the Day shows the climactic fight at the beginning and tells the rest in flashback, so there's nothing to look forward to. Each dialogue-heavy scene plays out roughly the same, with characters showing up someplace, talking, and then leaving.

Middleweight boxer Anthony Rodriguez (DeMeo) wins the championship and agrees to a sit-down interview with sports writer Larry Merchant (playing himself). He tells the story of his drunken Puerto Rican father (Manny Perez) and sad fate of his beloved mother (Annabella Sciorra). And he tells about growing up, mixed-race, with neighborhood gangsters; the touch Enzo (Michael Madsen) takes a liking to Anthony and looks after him, but Anthony's best friend Matty (Joe D'Onofrio) is a bad influence on him. Anthony is in love with Maria (Shannen Doherty), but she is involved with the abusive "made" guy Dominick (Ronnie Marmo). If only Anthony can keep it together long enough to win the big fight, maybe he can make something of himself.

Actors like Madsen and Baldwin manage to find things to work with in-between their voluminous dialogue, and come away with their dignity mostly intact. The less experienced actors haven't a prayer. The fight scenes aren't even exciting, turned bland by way too many cutaways to fans at ringside. Most of the soapy story elements have been done elsewhere, and better, but director Paul Borghese drags the movie out to a torturous two hours, as if pure repetition could pound some life into this punishing pugilist project.

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