Mike D'Angelo
August 01, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

When exactly did Congress pass a law stating that aspiring film directors — even those as prominent as Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey — must begin with a talky movie about squabbling small-time hoods? Spacey’s debut, like that of most thespians who venture behind the camera, boasts several sharp performances — Albino Alligator is easily Matt Dillon’s best work since Drugstore Cowboy — but Christian Forte’s painfully literate script (the metaphor that provides the film with its title is as clunky as they come) is so predictable you may wish you’d rented Dog Day Afternoon again instead. Here’s hoping Spacey’s next effort is as distinctive as his acting. C

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