Homeboy (1988) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Homeboy is a meandering and aimless film about a meandering and aimless man. That man is Johnny Walker, played by Mickey Rourke in another one of his signature ‘quirky’ roles. Walker isn’t so much a boxer as he is a drunk who likes to fight and those fights happen to be in a low-rent contest in front of other drunks. He may have had a once promising career as a pugilist, but those days are long past when we are introduced to the character. He now suffers from brain damage, though the film never makes it clear if this is from concussive blows or excessive alcohol consumption.

As the film begins Johnny Walker arrives in a small sea-side resort town where he almost instantly falls in love with Ruby, a carnival owner whose a bit of an alcoholic nomad much like Johnny. He also falls under the seductive allure of a corrupt promoter, Wesley Pendergrass (Christopher Walken). Wesley and Johnny form a destructive friendship, and Johnny comes to idolize the older, smarter Wesley.

Things turn sour when Wesley propositions a robbery plan that includes using Johnny as the ‘muscle’.The increasingly erratic and dangerous bond between Wesley and Johnny takes a toll on Ruby (Debra Feuer), who forces Johnny to choose between two very different lives.

Despite a deep passion for the sport of boxing and having penned the screenplay, Mickey Rourke makes some acting ‘choices’ that torpedo his own project. Those peculiarities include seeing Rourke perform a scene with a booger in his right nostril, oddly smelling his fingers in a later scene, and speaking in a semi-retarded manner throughout the seemingly endless picture. Look quickly for a very young Stephen Baldwin as an overly aggressive drunkard in an early sequence. Homeboy is an unconvincing film that attempts to merge Midnight Cowboy and Fat City into one movie.

Director: Michael Seresin
Stars: Mickey Rourke, Christopher Walken, Debra Feuer

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