The most intriguing aspect of this story--about a shy cop who is "given" a young woman for a week as a reward for saving a mobster's life--is the reverse casting. Robert De Niro, celebrated for a string of violent, volatile types in films from TAXI DRIVER to CAPE FEAR, plays the timid,
ineffectual cop; Bill Murray, not exactly known for his hard-man roles, plays the mafioso--albeit a wise-cracking mafioso who moonlights as a stand-up comic. In a slightly more predictable assignment, Uma Thurman plays the lovely young barmaid over whom the two men eventually come to blows.
MAD DOG is stylishly shot and comes with some great macho confrontation scenes, courtesy of screenwriter Richard Price (SEA OF LOVE, THE COLOR OF MONEY). These are handled with humor, as well as real menace, by De Niro's partner (David Caruso, before he became America's first officially hunky
redhead as the star of TV's "NYPD Blue") and Murray's lumbering henchman (Mike Starr). Good supporting players, though, tend to draw attention to what's wrong with the leads. De Niro's mumbling, inarticulate delivery is too close to the actor's real-life persona to really qualify as a performance,
and Murray can't make the funny/sinister combination work. His comic schtick undercuts the power of his threats ("Have you ever heard of botulism? We can kill her with soup!"), while his nastiness makes it hard to laugh at some of the gags. leave a comment
MAD DOG AND GLORY is an edgy romantic drama that never quite jells, but has enough moments of humor and/or charm to make it worth seeing.