Owning Mahowny

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * · )    DVD Rating: ( * * * · · )

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Ever since Scotty from Boogie Nights, I've loved the work of Philip Seymore Hoffman. He's a true actor in an industry rampant with self stroking egocentric actors who won't ever do a role that makes them look bad. A real actor isn't afraid to be a disgusting villain, or gay, or ugly. Hoffman's roles in almost all of his movies are real and deep and meaningful. Owning Mahowny is one such movie and one such role. Hoffman's subtlety and attitude carry this movie. Its a small picture but very good.

Movies about degenerate gamblers on their path of destruction doesn't seem very interesting when you read the back of the video box, but movies like this prove that plot summaries, actor lists, producing credits, or previews do very little to tell you whether a movie is good or not. Other than someone who's taste you trust telling you a movie is good, there is no other factor that you can weigh effectively. I loved Hoffman in Owning Mahowny and in Boogie Nights but I absolutely hated the movie Happiness, even though he starred in it. I also hated Talented Mr. Ripley for being a classy version of a Three's Company episode. By the way, Roeper ripped off my Three's Company metaphor in his latest "top ten worst movies of 2003" show.

There is a lot to like in Owning Mahowny. The story is interesting and well written. The supporting roles all do a marvelous job of trying to figure out what Mahowny is about. Smaller roles all have enough quirks and details to fill them out, reminding me of the details in True Romance.

The DVD of Owning Mahowny is well done. It has a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a 16x9 enhanced picture that do a fine job representing the film. There were few extras on the DVD and no commentary track.

I love small cheap movies like Owning Mahowny. I like getting a small simple and interesting story for my two hour investment instead of some explosion filled monstrosity like Pirates of the Caribbean or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Life is too short to watch bad movies. Instead of watching a movie you know will suck like Along Came Polly, rent Owning Mahowny and take a chance to see something good.