Gun Shy is a scattershot comedy that draws from several trendy genres. Borrowing a page from The Sopranos, or Analyze This, it deals with the psychological anxieties behind the traditional mob movie. In addition, it stirs in some romantic comedy, some lowbrow humor, and even a bit of the traditional odd-couple schtick. The end result is confusion, pure and simple.
Charlie Mayough (Liam Neeson) is an undercover DEA agent with a bad case of nerves. His partner was killed, and he barely escaped death himself, on this latest assignment, and Charlie doesn’t feel he can go on. He is the key go-between man to set up a high dollar money laundering scheme between Columbian drug lords Fidel (Jose Zuniga) and Estuvio (Michael Delorenzo) and deadly mob hitman Fulvio Nesstra (Oliver Platt). One false move will get Charlie killed…and he is paralized to take a step.
So, to help out, Charlie’s psychiatrist (Michael Mantell) suggests that he enroll in group therapy. The group, composed of white-collar men, isn’t quite sure what to make of Charlie, whose life of danger makes their own pathetic troubles seem, well, pathetic.
Meanwhile, Charlie’s nerves are wreaking havoc on his colon, so he goes to visit a gastroenterologist. In the midst of a barium enema, he falls in love with his nurse (really!), Judy Tipp (Sandra Bullock). The romantic comedy doesn’t quite jibe with the rest of the film, but Bullock produced the movie, and thus here it is.
Gun Shy is like a jigsaw puzzle in which none of the pieces quite fit. The image is there, but we can never put the whole thing together. Some of the pieces want to belong to a gritty mob movie, others are part of a quirky psychotherapy farce. There are a few standard romantic comedy pieces here and there. When you add in a smattering of 90s-style bathroom humor, you’re left with…quite a mess.
But, in bits and pieces, there’s a glimmer of a good film. The interplay between Oliver Platt and Liam Neeson is well done. The film boasts enjoyable supporting turns from Richard Schiff (as a member of the therapy group), and Mary McCormack (as Fulvio’s mob-connected wife). And even a few of the gags are funny, though most quickly overstay their welcome.
Writer-director Eric Blakeney has created one heck of a schizophrenic movie, and he doesn’t quite know where to take it. As a result, halfway into the movie, we’re thoroughly confused. By the end, the whole thing is adrift and scattered among the waves. Could something have been done with this film to make it worthwhile? Perhaps…but to make sense, it would have to be almost a complete rewrite.
Gun Shy isn’t an abysmal film. It’s more like the tattered threads of several different good films haphazardly tossed together. The parts simply don’t sum up.