Tough Guys Don't Dance

Cartoonishly baroque noir performed with the gusto of a community theater rendition of Tennessee Williams, Mailer's self-adaptation reaches a realm of absurdity that borders on heavenly. If the swinging-for-the-fences Southern (or "Suh-thuwn") accents from half of the cast aren't enough, there are the wonderfully batshit non sequiturs that form the foundation of the script. The true joy is watching how these single lines weave their way back into casual conversation, much like computing a universe in which human vacuum Ryan O'Neal could've been spawned from Lawrence Tierney. Or one in which O'Neal & Isabella Rossellini find Christian swingers via Screw Magazine, one of whom is Suh-thuwn preacher Penn Jillette. That shit actually happens.

The outsized melodrama is a perfect incubation tube for folding traditional hard-boiled class concerns into the beige yuppiedom of the late '80s. That artistic point takes a massive backseat to the parade of WTFery and like Showgirls gets misread as mockable camp, which is unfortunate since the entertainment level found here is worth at least 1,000 Birdmans.