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The Jerky Boys Reviews

Tasteless shenanigans based on the exploits of overgrown adolescents Johnny Brennan and Kamal Ahmed, popular phone pranksters whose outrageous calls became hits on underground tapes, radio and commercial CDs. Queens layabouts Johnny and Kamal (Brennan and Ahmed) delight in making crank calls, and when childhood acquaintance Brett Weir (James Lorinz) brags about his new gig with the mob, the duo put a call in to his higher-ups, representing themselves as hit men from Chicago. The Mafiosi send them to shake down a bar owner who's standing in the way of a real estate takeover; unfortunately, the recalcitrant Mickey (Alan North) own Johnny and Kamal's favorite hangout, and beats them up when they reluctantly inform him of their mission. Local boss Lazarro (Alan Arkin) soon figures out the boys' scheme, but they escape his murderous underlings by posing as various bizarre characters and use their pranking skills to tape incriminating statements that bust Lazarro and his confederate, crooked cop Worzic (Brad Sullivan). The filmmakers evidently realized that watching staged crank calls on screen doesn't have the subversive kick of listening to the real thing. But what they came up with instead is a cheap and unfunny comedy that wastes a strong supporting cast — which includes William Hickey, Paul Bartel and a cameo by Tom Jones — and turns the distinctive Jerky Boys into anonymous second-rate comics.