Frogs For Snakes

on May 21, 1999 by Cathy Thompson-Georges
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   Amos Poe apparently saw a double feature of "Goodfellas" and "Pulp Fiction," took an acting class, ate an extra-large anchovy pizza and then dreamed up this movie. "Frogs for Snakes," titled after the classic Sonny Boy Williamson blues tune, is nothing if not unconventional--it attempts to cross the ultra-violent gangster movie with a theatre-world satire. And, sporadically, it succeeds.
   Barbary Hershey, all lips and limbs, plays Eva, a woman with a double vocation. A successful hitwoman, Eva also slings hash in one of those movie diners where you can trot off to do more important things in the middle of a shift without getting fired. She's also the best actress her gangster/ex-husband/theatre impressario has ever had in his little troupe, but she's given all that up. Not the violence-for-hire business, mind you--just the acting, which in this world is far more cutthroat. The conceit in "Frogs for Snakes" is that all these hardboiled characters are actors--ones who take the phrase "I'd kill for that role" quite literally. When they aren't hanging people from meathooks, they're bickering about the upcoming production of "American Buffalo."
   It's an audacious enough idea to have the scenes of mayhem interspersed with numberless monologues from the American theatrical repertoire. But the joke goes on awfully long, and there's a bit too much scenery-chewing. "Frogs for Snakes" is a bit sloppy--a good idea that wasn't fully worked out. And the trendy ultraviolence combined with comedy isn't too appealing. Hershey isn't terribly convincing as a hardboiled dame, although Lisa Marie is a delight as her vixenish actress friend. Still, anyone who has spent much time with theater people will get a chuckle or two from "Frogs for Snakes."    Starring Barbara Hershey, Harry Hamlin, John Leguizamo and Robbie Coltrane. Directed and written by Amos Poe. Produced by Larry Meistrich and Phyllis Freed Kaufman. An Artisan release. Comedy/Drama. Rated R for strong violence, sexuality and sex-related dialogue, language and some drug use. Running time: 99 min.
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