When did Hollywood decide that Joe Pesci was a comedian? Sure, he was Oscar-worthy in his supporting role as Leo Getz Lethal Weapon 2, and he was amusing as the fish-out-of-water in My Cousin Vinny, but he’s no Jim Carrey. 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag makes the unfortunate mistake of casting non-comedians in roles that call for precise comedic timing. Not surprisingly, the only characters that register are played by David Spade and Todd Louiso, two stand-up comedians. Oscar-winning screenwriter Thomas Schulman, responsible for Dead Poets Society, makes his directorial debut with 8 head in a Duffel Bag. This is a one-joke premise that proves to be television sit-com material not worthy of 95 minutes of sustained attention.
Tommy Spinelli (Joe Pesci) has been tasked with delivering a duffel bag stuffed with eight human heads to the hands of a gangster on the west coast. But when Charlie (Andy Comeau), a passenger on the same flight, mistakenly takes the bag, the heads go to Mexico, and Tommy will go to any measure to retrieve his possessions. This includes torturing Charlie’s college roommates (David Spade, Todd Louiso) to find the whereabout of the vacationing student.
Meanwhile, the innocent Charlie must find a way to get rid of the rotting human cargo without getting caught by his in-laws (George Hamilton, Dyan Cannon), nosey resort employees, or the local authorities. This proves increasingly difficult as the picture moves along and by the film’s end the characters have acted so manic and inconsistent that I gave up any hope for actual laughs and watched in a sort of bemusement at the folly.
8 Heads in a Duffel Bag is kind of astonishing in its existence. That it was produced, released, and is out there in its current state is a lesson in Hollywood’s throw it against the wall mentality. Too long and devoid of laughs, this is one of two awful Joe Pesci comedies release in 1997.
Director: Tom Schulman
Stars: Joe Pesci, David Spade, Andy Comeau