When an actor’s career is stalled or they’re not getting the kind of or size of roles they want, some are able to write their way out of the rut.
Sylvester Stallone famously took the screenwriting route with “Rocky,” Matt Damon and Ben Affleck did it with “Good Will Hunting” (and Affleck did it again a dozen years later with “The Town”) and Billy Bob Thornton made “Sling Blade.”
Trying it with less success in “Loosies” is Peter Facinelli, an experienced, handsome and likable actor with more than a touch of a resemblance to Tom Cruise in his sharply planed features and almost smirking grin.
Facinelli is best known for playing honorable Dr. Carlisle Cullen, the vampire leader who keeps his family from chomping on human flesh in the blockbuster “Twilight” series. He's also a regular on Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” as Dr. Fitch Cooper. (And, yes, “Dancing With the Stars” fans, he is wed in real life to former contestant and actress Jennie Garth.)
In “Loosies” — the title is the word that smokers in New York City use when asking to purchase single cigarettes at a corner bodega — Facinelli plays Bobby, a pickpocket in the Big Apple. Bobby dresses in a suit and tie, pretending to work on Wall Street but spends his days flitting in and out of Manhattan office buildings and the subway, grabbing wallets, lifting watches and surreptitiously snatching briefcases and cell phones.
Bobby has his principles. He refuses to steal necklaces off women because he feels those items mean too much to the owner.
In Bobby, Facinelli has written himself the beginnings of an intriguing character. Unfortunately, he then saddles Bobby with a whopper of a back story (to explain why our troubled hero turned to stealing) and plunges him into a messy and boringly sappy romance with the model-pretty Lucy (Jaimie Alexander, of “Thor” and TV’s “Kyle XY”). (The movie’s title also functions as a play on Lucy’s name.)
She and Bobby had a one-night stand a few months back and early in the movie she shows up to reveal that she is pregnant and he’s the father. There are also a limp bouquet of subplots involving a couple of police officers (Michael Madsen and William Forsythe, who are fun together), Bobby’s widowed mother and her new beau (Marianne Leone and Joe Pantoliano), and Bobby’s fence (Vincent Gallo, modeling a grungy shortie bathrobe in almost every scene).
Director Michael Corrente proved with “Federal Hill” and “Brooklyn Rules” that he knows his way around urban, working class, neighborhood guys and their aspirations and dreams. When “Loosies” is simply following Bobby around New York as he plies his trade, it is both funny and fascinating, giving us a seemingly authentic glimpse into the life of a smalltime hustler in the big city.
But every time the movie focuses in Bobby’s on-again, off-again romance with Lucy, the film starts to play like a soft-focus Hallmark commercial with the couple strolling hand-in-hand through dawn’s early light.
In the end, “Loosies” lives up to its title. There’s an enjoyable smoke here but not the satisfactions of the whole pack.