Owen Gleiberman
June 04, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Frogs for Snakes

Current Status
In Season
Amos Poe
Mystery and Thriller, Drama, Comedy

We gave it a D-

Writer-director Amos Poe has been exploiting the ready-made grittiness of downtown Manhattan locations since the mid-’70s, when he debuted with the seminal punk documentary The Blank Generation. This time, he pens the sort of aimless ”street-smart” dialogue in Frogs for Snakes that hinges on the nonstop referencing of offscreen character names (Al, Iggy, Flav, etc.) we’re meant to find as automatically cool and charming as the filmmaker does. Barbara Hershey, who needs to stop doing so many flaky, dead-end movies, plays Eva, an actress moonlighting as a collector for a loan shark (Robbie Coltrane), who also happens to be an underground theatrical impresario in the East Village. This sub-precious contrivance is Poe’s excuse to have his characters break into famous movie monologues, a device that might have seemed almost fresh during the film-buff ’70s. Among the engaging performers cast as Jane and Johnny One-Notes are Lisa Marie, Debi Mazar, and John Leguizamo, who does do a great Brando (but then, who doesn’t?). D-

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