Brooklyn Rules is a mix of coming of age drama and typical mafia film- comparisons with such classics as Goodfellas, Once Upon A Time In America, and even The Godfather will inevitably be made. True, the film does try to be a lighter, more commercial, less complicated version of Goodfellas- with fewer characters, a simpler plot, and less violence and swearing. The opening scenes comprise of voiceovers by the main character, played by Freddie Prince Jr, as he tells us briefly about his childhood growing up in Brooklyn, his friends, and his experiences with the mafia- like Goodfellas. The movie is set in the eighties with music, clothes, and expressions of the era all handled authentically- like Goodfellas, different decade. There are sudden flashes of violence with traitors and shady characters all being punished in over the top fashion- just like Goodfellas. There is something wrong with a film with so many comparisons to Goodfellas, and this is perfectly watchable. It just feels at times that the film is not a whole- like it is a smaller part of a bigger film.
The film centres on three friends in Brooklyn, the seedy underbelly of a larger city which seems foreign to those on either side. Michael (Jr) wants to get out of Brooklyn by studying Law. Bobby (Jerry Ferrara) is an underachiever whose main concerns are saving every penny and looking after his girlfriend, all under the watchful eye of Our Lord. Carmine (Scott Cann) is enamoured with mob life, and against the advice of his friends begins to hang out with local mob king Caesar (Alec Baldwin). The acting is of high enough quality, though no-one stands out, and the only unconvincing relationship is between Michael and Mena Suvari’s character Ellen. There seems to be no reason for the pair to like each other, although the way their different backgrounds seem so alien to one another is interesting. Certain unfortunate incidents occur which unravel the story, but the ending (predictably cheesy) feels too sudden, like nothing has been resolved. Certain characters come in such a way that make the film feel rushed and unfinished.
The film is worth watching for fans of mob dramas, it is interesting, holds the attention, and is not particularly offensive. Most scenes of violence are off screen or not as brutal as other films of this kind. There are a few interesting moments and themes which could ha
ve been expanded upon, and a few characters who deserved more screen time, but overall this is a watchable smaller brother of much greater films.