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Things Change

"Things Change" on DVD

by Jim Bray

David Mamet takes to the director's chair in "Things Change," a whimsical tale of mistaken identity in the world of the mafia.

Don Ameche stars as Gino, an Italian immigrant shoemaker who enters into a deal with the Chicago Don to take a murder rap and serve a few years in prison in return for a generous annual salary.

Ameche is turned over to Jerry, played by Joe Mantegna, a small time mafia hood trying to work his way off of probation for an inability to follow orders. Mantegna's job is to spend Ameche's last weekend of freedom in his apartment with him, seeing to it that he doesn't get into trouble.

Unfortunately, Mantegna still can't follow orders and, because he's at heart a decent guy, he bundles Ameche into an airplane for one last weekend fling in the fleshpots of Lake Tahoe.

They try to register unobtrusively - to keep out of trouble - but Mantegna is recognized and so makes up a story about Ameche being the mysterious Mr. Johnson, who wants to be left alone and anonymous for the weekend.

What ensues is more than just a tale of mistaken identity, as Ameche is assumed to be a high powered Mafia figure and therefore treated that way.

Every time Mantegna thinks they've gotten away with the charade another monkeywrench is thrown at them, and every time it looks as if the weight of the Mafia is going to fall heavily on their shoulders, GIno's innate decency and sense of honor and duty rides to the rescue.

"Things Change" is a gentle and enjoyable tale, and it's fun to watch Mantegna and Ameche try to have one halcyon weekend and not bother anyone, but get bothered in return nonetheless.

Ameche is excellent, completely believable, as the elderly "old world" Italian. Mantegna is also good as a guy whose good heart and independent streak doesn't really put him in good stead in organized crime, but who may not be suited for anything else, either.

This is really a buddy flick, and a good one.

The widescreen (and fullscreen on the opposite side) DVD is in Dolby Digital mono, and audio/video quality are very good. Extras include digitally mastered audio and anamorphic video, bonus trailers, chapter stops, talent files and production notes.

Things Change, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
100 minutes, Widescreen (1.85:1)/Pan&Scan, Dolby Digital mono
Starring Don Ameche, Joe Mantegna, Robert Prosky
Produced by Michael Hausman, Screenplay by David Mamet & Shel Silverstein
Directed by David Mamet


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Updated May 13, 2006