Gun Shy

on February 04, 2000 by L. J. Strom
   Now that we've seen movie mafiosi unburdening themselves to their psychiatrists, the good guys get a turn on the couch in this fairly engaging crime comedy from writer-director Eric Blakeney. Liam Neeson stars as Charlie Mayough, a DEA agent suffering from flashbacks and anxiety attacks, not to mention stress-related gastrointestinal problems. But before he can retire, Mayough must go undercover in a high-finance money-laundering deal between a Wall Street hotshot, a Colombian drug cartel and the Italian mafia, represented by volatile mobster Fulvio Nesstra (Oliver Platt). In order to cope with the stress, Mayough attends a men's support group and finds romance with Nurse Judy (Sandra Bullock), a holistic healer and self-described "Enema Queen." The real trick to getting out of the undercover operation alive, however, is for Mayough to determine just who are his enemies and who are his friends.
   "Gun Shy" pokes some good fun at the gangster genre and is at its most amusing when it focuses on the foibles and short fuses of its criminals. Particularly well-conceived is Oliver Platt's Fulvio; he's desperate to get out of the racket because he's painfully aware of what a mafia cliche he is. Platt is so hilariously on-the-nose here that he just about steals the show.
   Less successful, though, is the film's romantic angle. Bullock shares no discernable chemistry with Neeson, and her character, while genial, is neither very original nor terribly integral to the plot.
   Nevertheless, Neeson is quite credible as the skillful but angst-ridden cop, the script is generally smart and funny--if scatologically inclined--and the climax delightfully intertwines Mayough's personal life in the support group with his professional life amongst the guys on the wrong side of the law. "Gun Shy" doesn't break any new ground, but it's an enjoyable and competent piece of work. Starring Liam Neeson, Oliver Platt and Sandra Bullock. Directed and written by Eric Blakeney. Produced by Sandra Bullock. A Buena Vista release. Comedy. Rated R for violence, language and some brief nudity. Running time: 101 min
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