January Man [1989]

It's New Year's Eve and a serial killer stalks the streets of New York, looking for his next victim. Under pressure from the public and the press, Police Commissioner Frank Starkey (Harvey Keitel) and the mayor (Rod Steiger) reinstate Starkey's brother Nick (Kevin Kline) in the force to track down the murderer. Nick was pressured to resign some years back and bad blood remains between him and his brother; almost immediately he rubs his superior (Danny Aiello) the wrong way when he turns his office into a sort of beatnik den. Flanked by his eccentric buddy (Alan Rickman) and the mayor's daughter (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), Starkey goes about running the killer down his own way. This film is a confused muddle--not funny enough to be a comedy, not suspenseful enough to be a taut cop thriller, and without enough chemistry to be a romantic drama. The excellent cast is adrift in a screenplay that throws in everything but the kitchen sink; Keitel, Steiger, and Aiello go completely apoplectic every time they're onscreen together (which should please fans of over-the-top acting). The first screenplay by John Patrick Shanley after his Oscar win for Moonstruck is hardly cut of the same cloth. --Jerry Renshaw

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