As a longtime series writer on The Sopranos, Terence Winter admirably steered clear of most of the hoary old organized crime clichés. Instead, he's poured them all into director Michael Corrente's anemic urban drama about a trio of best friends growing up on the mean streets of Brooklyn in the pre-gentrified '80s. The always engaging Scott Caan stars as the preening wise guy wanna-be who can't walk past a mirror without checking his slicked-back pompadour; Entourage's Jerry Ferrara is the good-hearted mama's boy who we know is a goner from the second he kneels to pray in front of a Catholic church; and just when you thought it was safe to go back into a movie theater, there's Freddie Prinze Jr., doing a tortured Sylvester Stallone impersonation as the kid from the wrong side of the tracks (or at least Prospect Park) trying to reinvent himself as Joe College. The characters have names like Carmine and Bobby and say things like "It's good to remember who your friends are." Alec Baldwin pops up just long enough to lop off some poor schlub's ear in a meat slicer, and "Sympathy for the Devil" blares on the soundtrack—presumably because "Gimme Shelter" was already in use over at The Departed.
Baldwin is a long way from 30 Rock.
Opens at Meridian, Fri., July 13. Rated R. 99 minutes.