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We're No Angels
★★☆☆☆
First run Theater cinema
An absurd amount of talent was brought together to make this minor fish-out-of-water comedy about two escaped cons who take refuge in a monastery and must pose as priests to avoid capture. Robert DeNiro, who’d just demonstrated his gift for comedy in Midnight Run, and Sean Penn, who hadn’t made a comedy since ’82’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High, play the dimwitted fleeing prisoners. The supporting cast is amusing, especially Hoyt Axton as the head of the monastery and a young John C. Reilly as an impressionable priest. A miscast Demi Moore plays a local laundress, prostitute, and mother of a deaf child. Moore is far too contemporary an actress to be credible as a woman from the '30s, which is when this story takes place.

Expectations could not have been higher for this picture, and Paramount sunk more than $20 million into it (at the time a large chunk of change for a comedy). The producer, Art Linson, was the impresario behind the big hits Fast Times, Car Wash, The Untouchables, and Scrooged; the director, Neil Jordan, was the hot, young acclaimed Irish filmmaker behind Angel, The Company of Wolves, and Mona Lisa; and the screenwriter was the celebrated playwright David Mamet, who had penned the hit movies The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Verdict, and The Untouchables. But perhaps the biggest contributor to this picture was its production designer, Wolf Kroeger—the man who built the incredible town for 1980’s Popeye in Malta (which still stands today). Kroeger (First Blood, Ladyhawke, Year of the Dragon) creates another amazing period town in Mission, British Columbia to stand info for an imagined 1930’s upstate New York. The story is based very VERY loosely on the 1955 Michael Curtiz picture of the same name, which starred Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, and Peter Ustinov. That film, based on a play, was staged entirely in a single set. This film, which can hardly be called a remake, takes the concept of “opening up" a play when adapting it to the big screen to the extreme.

Twitter Capsule:
De Niro and Penn are dimwitted ex-cons who must pass as priests in this overproduced period comedy that's a bit short on laughs but has some amazing production design.
Directed by Neil Jordan
Produced by Art Linson

Screenplay by David Mamet
Suggested by the earlier screenplay by by Ranald MacDougall
Based on the play My Three Angels by Samuel Spewack and Bella Spewack
Based on the play La Cuisine Des Anges by Albert Husson

With: Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Demi Moore, Hoyt Axton, Bruno Kirby, Ray McAnally, James Russo, Wallace Shawn, John C. Reilly, and Jay Brazeau

Cinematography: Philippe Rousselot
Editing: Mick Audsley and Joke van Wijk
Music: George Fenton

Runtime: 101 min
Release Date: 15 December 1989
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
Color