There’s no joy in high-hatting the unpretentious, so here’s an affectionate preamble: Robert Davi is an endearing nonconformist, a sore-thumb governed by schizophrenic logic, a Catholic Republican character-actor who, by virtue of his cratered complexion, has found steady employment in Hollywood playing craggy cops and evil foreigners since the mid-seventies. Lord love him, he’s been busy this autumn, doing voice-overs for McCain ads from the bowels of Beverly Hills, narrating video montages for the RNC, and hamming it up in theaters as a Muslim recruiter of suicide bombers in An American Carol. However disagreeable his politics, it’s hard to deride such a misfit. Here is a man for whom Showgirls was a day job, and campaigning to end abortion in California is a hobby. So it should come as no surprise that this free man’s spastic magnum opus (which he co-wrote, produced, and directed) is a bit uneven.
The premise of The Dukes is solid: the members of a doo-wop group, successful in the Sixties, are now loosely associated as losers, struggling to make alimony payments and working as line cooks in somebody’s aunt’s restaurant. Consumed as they are with Italian food and crooning, it’s no surprise that they find their solution via matters of the mouth: after one of them swallows a gold tooth, the band hatches a plan to burgle a dental clinic. They’ll find gold there, and subsidize their own nightclub. Click here to read the rest of Leah Churner’s review of The Dukes.