With the ‘Entourage’ movie on the way, Jerry “Turtle” Ferrara was practically guaranteed to star in the douchiest movie of 2015. However, as if concerned that one might not work out in his favor, he decided to double down ‘Club Life’. The movie dares to tell the “hard truth” about working in the New York club scene and delivers something that’s hard to watch without throwing blunt objects at the screen.
Ferrara stars as Johnny D., a hard luck limo driver who has lived a long life suffering at the bottom New York city cesspool. (Actually, he appears to be middle class, but he sure makes it sound rough!) His father is sick, his mother is worried about seemingly everything, and his beautiful girlfriend is… well, OK, there’s nothing wrong with that situation. You see, Johnny’s got a knack with the ladies, and one night he rolls up to the club with a big collection of pretty ones to party hard in a way that can only be expressed through an arm-flailing opening credit sequence.
This draws the attention of a sleazy club promoter (Danny A. Abeckaser) who hopes that Johnny might be able to help him round up beautiful women to bring to his clubs every night. If he can provide the ladies, Johnny will get a cut of the profits. So he starts hanging out with models and stacking clubs full of them. The money starts flowing, his girlfriend goes away, his family gets stressed, and things go wrong in a way that can only be cured by a few meltdown sequences and inspirational montages set to thundering techno beats.
‘Club Life’ is clearly a movie made by over-privileged club kids who talked to a few bouncers and decided that they could make a new ‘Mean Streets’, only with more models and less of that ugly grit, grime and reality stuff. Granted, the movie is supposed to be a critique of a shallow world that gives audiences douche chills like ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, but the filmmakers lack any sense of the wit, irony or realism necessary to make their point.
It’s hard not to hate everyone in this movie. If the characters aren’t outright jerks, they’ve been humanized through gratingly overused plot devices such as sick parents and sentimental hard luck stories. There’s a certain level of amusement to be found wallowing in the bad behavior early on, but that quickly vanishes once the story barrels into the third act and everyone gets emotional. The script devolves into a series of tedious scenes with no purpose beyond giving the cast a chance to act really hard in flat scenes that first-time director Fabrizio Conte shoots more like an acting reel than an actual movie.
Some of the performances are OK, particularly Robert Davi. Unfortunately, for the most part, the movie is a collection of underused actors desperately trying to show off skills they don’t quite have in scenes that don’t go anywhere. In particular, Ferrara earns an A for effort, but ultimately proves that he’s no leading man in a performance that feels like a collection of ‘Dawson’s Creek’ gifs strung together. The big splashy club scenes rarely even make much impact given that the independent production couldn’t afford to build sets at an appropriate scale or stage music video montages in the right overblown style.
There’s always a chance that the shallow lifeless souls who live for nothing more than the dance floor antics depicted here will latch onto the movie as the tale of their lives. However, it’s tough to imagine anyone who clings to such empty thrills caring enough to seek out an indie film and give it some money. Well, maybe they’ll see it on Netflix, but only if the ‘Entourage’ movie isn’t available first.