ONCE UPON A TIME IN VENICE — Review by Susan Granger

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Today’s conundrum: Why did Bruce Willis want to make this wannabe action-comedy caper that turns out to be neither? Money is the only answer. Willis plays Steve Ford, a disgraced former police officer-turned private detective, who works with his bumbling millennial protégé, John (Thomas Middleditch), serving as narrator, in the kooky underworld of the Venice Beach section of Los Angeles, where Steve warns local kids against the dangers of drugs and hookers. Continue reading…

When Steve’s beloved Jack Russell Terrier, Buddy, is dognapped by some local thugs, he’s determined to retrieve him – with the help of his pal, depressed surf-shop owner Dave Jones (John Goodman), who is going through a nasty divorce.

The evidence leads them to a low-life cocaine-peddler named Spyder (Jason Momoa); Yuri (Ken Davitian), a ruthless Russian loan shark; and “Lew the Jew” Jewison (Adam Goldberg), a real-estate developer who needs Steve’s help to track down graffiti artist Salvatore Lopez (Tyga) who has been defacing his buildings with obscene murals.

Hovering around, causing trouble, is Lupe the Bitch (Stephanie Sigman) who fancies the stolen pooch Buddy, much to the chagrin of Steve’s sister (Famke Janssen) and niece (Emily Robinson). Plus there’s Kal Penn as a surly convenience store owner.

The highlight of the ‘action’ is when Steve (or his stunt double) goes for a naked skateboard chase sequence. Yes, that’s a sight to see!

Written by siblings Mark and Robb Cullen (“Heist,” “Lucky,”) and directed with modest film-noir flair by Mark Cullen, it reaches a humiliating low-point when Steve stuffs a revolver between his bare butt cheeks.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Once Upon a Time in Venice” is a frantic 4, fueled by testosterone.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.