Crooked Lines (2003)
Johnny, a small time criminal in his late thirties, has been trying to get ahead his whole life. Sure, hes managed to scrape up enough money over the years to refurnish his entire apartment, but he hasnt been able to do much else. Andrea, Johnnys girlfriend, knowing all too well of his situation and not happy about it, offers him a chance to better himself. He can work for her father driving a bread truck, or he can probably lose her. Johnny, sensing Andreas loss of patience, reluctantly agrees to the first part, but thats when something comes up... That something is Manny, a mistreated hit man for the Angelino crime family and Johnnys good friend. He tells Johnny about a deli the Angelinos use as a front for their drug trading, and about how it will have a million cash just sitting in it on the last day of February. All they need to do is get three guys not from around that they can count on to go into the deli and get the money. Johnny agrees to take part, but only on the condition that Mike Ameche, a dangerous Capo of the Angelinos and Mannys boss, has nothing to do with things. Manny assures Johnny that he doesnt, and they go to work. Enter, Sal: a wiry, wild eyed, chain smoker who talks a mile a minute. At the deli, he is to keep a lookout by the door. Also, Chris: a big red-headed guy who is likable with a streak of cold-bloodedness. He is to be the jobs muscle. And, Joe: a struggling but talented actor who is a little more refined than the others. He is to do all the talking and driving. These are the three men Johnny and Manny rest their hopes and dreams with... probably not a good idea. Meanwhile, two cops, Detective Anderson and Harris, are onto the deli. And why shouldnt they be? After all, Jimmy Pico, the owner of the deli, couldnt make things more obvious. He has toys on the shelf next to the tuna fish and ketchup, and he is always out of ham. Not to mention, he drives around in a brand new Cadillac, but no customers are ever in his store. For Johnny and the others, this, of course, is not good, but things could be worse... And they are. Remember Mike Ameche, the dangerous Capo of the Angelinos who Manny swore to Johnny wasnt involved with things? Well, not only is he involved with things, but he is actually the mastermind behind the whole robbery. On top of that, he wants Johnny and the others killed after the job. And, on top of that, he wants Manny to do the killing. Where Mannys loyalty lies at this point, we do not know. But Johnny has other problems: Andrea. He really does love her and really doesnt want to lose her, but she knows, as always, that something is going on. He would like to play both sides of the fence and take her fathers road test for the bread route job, but the test is the same day as the robbery. Desperate and distraught, he even shows up drunk in front of her apartment with an empty ring box to keep her from walking. But he has that look in his eye. The look he has every time a big score is around the corner; the look she can never compete with. So with everything set up, including Johnny, and with the cops well awareof things, Sal, Chris and Joe (wearing 70s disguises, Afros included)go into the deli on the last day of February to get the money. But they must hurry. The Dominicans are on their way with drugs that are to be exchanged for the cash. They only have a small window. Pico, though, is not cooperating and the clock is ticking. Also, tensions are rising. So when neighborhood gambling junkie/animal lover, Cliff Rosenblat, comes storming in screaming about his lost dog, it is quite understandable why he is not welcome. It is also quite understandable why he is whacked over the head with a giant salami, making it quite understandable why he falls to his apparent death. Meanwhile, Johnny actually goes to his road test. But when he gets there, he finds out that he isnt marked down to take it. Something is very wrong, but, at this point, we dont know what that is. Back at the deli, things dont appear to be much better. Pico is still not cooperating, Cliff is still not moving, and another customer is now in the store. Joe and Sal are going at it, and the clock continues to tick. Finally, Joe has had it. He puts his gun up against Picos head and starts to count to three. He wants the money or else. Before he can finish, though, Johnny runs into the deli wearing a wolf man mask. We then learn what the problem is: Its leap year. There is no money. Theyre in there on the wrong day. Outside of the deli, Johnny drives off to see Manny, but Sal, Chris and Joe have to wiggle their way out of a jam with two cops. They do so. After that, Johnny tells Manny the bad news and then accidentally finds out about Mike Ameche and the set-up. Manny convinces Johnny that his loyalty was always with him, and Johnny believes him... for now. On to Mike... Johnny comes up with a plan: they can kidnap Mike, dump him front of the deli with the seventies clothes on, have him take the fall for Cliff. After a tremendous struggle, including a close call with a hand grenade(long story), they are able to do just that. But when they dump Mike, Cliff wakes up. He was never really dead. Mike sees this and runs for it. He knows that the cops have nothing on him now, but if the Angelinos found out about him, hed be a dead man. Inside the deli, Detective Anderson and Harris are dealing with Pico when they see Mike take off wearing the seventies clothes. Harris goes after Mike, but Anderson stays with Pico and Cliff. Outside, Mike tries to catch up to Johnnys car while Harris tries to catch up to him. Inside the car, Johnny and the others see Mike and can hear what he is yelling about Cliff. They know now that the cops have nothing on him, so they let him in the car. Before they can drive off, though, Harris jumps on the hood and starts to read everyone their rights. But Johnnys car swerves, Harris falls off and they get away. Back in front of the deli, Anderson is exiting as Harris walks back. Anderson wasnt able to get any information out of Pico or Cliff, and together they have nothing. They wont get anything tomorrow either, because the deal with the Dominicans is obviously dead... all because of leap year. As for Mike, he is told by Johnny and the others that everything is buried. If he touches any of them, the Angelinos will find out about him and then he will be buried. Mike agrees and then laughs, If it wasnt for leap year, you were all going bye-bye. Later, Chris embellishes that by saying, God writes straight with Crooked Lines. So, after everyone is dropped off and on their separate ways, and Johnny and Manny are squared away... for now, Johnny goes to call Andrea on a pay phone(he can still take her fathers road test, because its leap year). Before he can call her, though, two neighborhood hobos, Billy and One Glove(who Johnny sees at two other occasions in the film), trudge up pulling a red wagon stacked with boxes. Johnny always tells these guys to stop bringing him stupid shit, but they never listen. Today, theyre selling fake Rolexes... or are they. Johnny looks at them closely... Theyre real! He calmly buys three boxes for a hundred dollars, and then calls Andrea. He tells her that the look in his eye, the same look that she could never compete with, is gone.