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By Ellen Fox

OCTOBER 12, 1998: 

Monument Ave.

This quick tale of clammy Irish-American hoods living in an Irish-American hood is long on pathos but short on character development. What it lacks in creative dialogue, it tries to make up for with slang. So there's lots of "See yez lateh" at the baahh, lots of cocaine snorted in ma's stuffy living room by men who are much too old for that sort of thing, and one tedious game of blacktop hockey, all jostling elbows and blurriness. Everyone says fuck a lot, which may be authentic, but it does nothing to distinguish one dreary character from another. It all comes down to caricatures: the two-bit kingpin (Colm Meaney had to be in there someplace), the flighty moll (stunningly out-of-place Famke Jannsen, no matter how many scrunchies or stone-washed getups she dons), the knowing detective (Martin Sheen, just awful) and the Innocent From Abroad, a bullseye the very moment he suggests maybe getting out of all this. Denis Leary has the most screen time, which must make him the central character. But aside from some early bits of cleverness (from his "Lock and Load" routine), he vanishes into lots of action with no good explanation. The best aspect of the film is its sense of place: the chilly, damp air and unflattering light capture industrial Boston but always hark back to Ireland. (Ellen Fox)

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