A first-rate casino grifter, Yonkers Joe (Palminteri) knows how to work every angle. He’s finally come up with a con that could catapult him into the league of rip-off legends: rigging a craps game with dice designed to foil even the most sophisticated security system in Las Vegas. Still, for all his brashness under pressure, our hero isn’t this drama’s ballsiest gambler. That would be writer-director Robert Celestino, who bets the house by saddling the stoic tough guy with a mentally disabled son (Guiry) prone to rage fits and Rain Man–like ranting. Say it ain’t so, Joe!
Sometimes you win big with such a high-stakes play, and sometimes you lose spectacularly. Whatever atmosphere Celestino milks from the seedy world of late-night poker games and whiskey-soaked mornings after is leached away once Tom Guiry’s pantomime idiot savant shows up. His performance is nowhere near the abysmal lows of Rosie O’Donnell’s Down-syndrome minstrelsy in the TV movie Riding the Bus with My Sister—still the gold standard for embarrassing portrayals of the mentally challenged—though watching Joe Jr. demonstrate his cunnilingus technique will certainly make you cringe. By the time the homilies about family and loyalty start creeping in, the bones have already rolled snake eyes one too many times.