So incompetent it should be used by film schools as a manual on how not to make a movie, and so terrible that it requires almost a complete rethinking of current cinema-critiquing paradigms, Attika Torrence’s They’re Just My Friends is the type of disastrous creation even a mother would have trouble loving. Co-written and starring World International Cruiserweight Boxing Champ Punchin’ Pat Nwamu (a.k.a. “The New York City Kid”), this autobiographical tale of Pat’s adventures in Howard Beach, Queens is an act of fantastically egomaniacal self-mythologizing, one in which the pugilist’s experiences with childhood Italian-American mobster friends and his Caucasian girlfriend are unimaginatively reconfigured into a plagiaristic pastiche of Jungle Fever and Goodfellas. Alas, such juvenilely executed derivativeness—full of gangster-speak that makes Richard Grieco’s turn in Mobsters seem downright Shakespearean by comparison—is part and parcel of the film’s prevailing crudity, which extends to camcorder-quality cinematography, an editing design that favors uproariously abrupt scene transitions, clumsy sex scenes where the sight of actors’ underwear is visible, and the almost-surely unauthorized use of both Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” for a BBQ brawl and Mister Mister’s “Broken Wings” for a flashback sequence in which Pat’s dad (Malik Yoba) pays the price for learning “to live so free.”
But wait, there’s more! The narrative also includes a mind-bogglingly inane subplot involving Pat’s familial ties to a Freemason sect known as The Lodge (a group whose ties stretch back to King Solomon), Pat repeatedly being called “darkie” by his mobster pals and having women gossip about his giant manhood, low-budget sets that imply that Queens only boasts buildings with brick wall interiors, and dialogue that’s either laughably clichéd (“Once you go black, you never go back,” opines Pat’s lover after some uncomfortable-looking lovemaking) or just grammatically clunky (“They’ll be rolling out on body bags,” says Pat during one particularly inarticulate instance). That this fiasco runs for a full two hours is only matched, in sheer unpleasantness, by the fact that its stunningly sudden conclusion actually hints at a sequel—an idea only a punch-drunk producer would actually finance, and one that elicits nothing so much as a desire to bang one’s head, Raging Bull-style, against the nearest wall. More than anything likely to hit screens this year, They’re Just My Friends is a true tidal wave of ineptitude, to the point that when Torrence’s camera gawks at Pat putting on his jeans, the overriding impression is that the director is lingering just to make sure his star can successfully perform the task.