A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)
I had never even heard of A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints until I rented Charlie Countryman (2013) at the Redbox. When you rent Charlie Countryman, you get A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints as a bonus movie. They give you a two-for-one, a double sided disc for the price of one movie. It’s a Shia LaBeouf double feature. They are both indie films. This was all the more intriguing to me, so I watched each movie the other night. You can guess what one of my next reviews will be.
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints was based on the book with the same title. Surprisingly enough, the man who wrote the book, Dito Montiel, also directed the movie. The movie is a film adaptation of Dito Montiel’s life growing up in Astoria, New York in the 1980s. The story is a look into a messed up childhood in a rough part of the city. It follows the struggles of inner city teenagers, Dito (Shia LaBeouf plays young Dito, and Robert Downey Jr. plays grown up Dito) and his friends as they are becoming adults. The circle of friends are pitted against drugs, violence, sex, love, hate, loss, and hardship. All the while, Dito wants to escape New York and try to make a better life for himself somewhere else.
The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Channing Tatum, Chazz Palminteri, Dianne Wiest, Rosario Dawson, Melonie Diaz, Martin Compston, Scott Michael Campbell, Anthony DeSando, Adam Scarimbolo, Peter Anthony Tambakis, Laila Liliana Garro, and Eric Roberts.
I’m surprised that this movie got past me 8 years ago, because the cast is excellent. I should have been aware of this film earlier. It’s another low-budget independent film that slipped through the cracks.
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints was hard to watch, at times, but it was also hard to stop watching. The film was an excellent depiction of how rundown certain areas of the country can be and how it affects the people living there. It’s indeed unfortunate, but it’s in-your-face honesty. Some people won’t be able to handle the honesty of this movie. The trashy characters, obscene language and other vulgarity, along with the sex, nudity, and mindless violence, among other things, will be too much for some.
But, you have to take the sweet from the sour. There is indeed a silver lining in this story. The headlining actors in this film are exceptional. The movie makes you feel like you are in the slums with the characters experiencing it all. The actors portray a remarkable friendship and camaraderie that helps you come back to the reality that people often try to be good even if they are bad.
The story is rigid and rocky, but the writing and acting make it all worthwhile. Here is an unknown gem for those who are willing to give it a chance.
I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
If you liked A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, you might also enjoy the following movies:
Due Date (2010)
Due Date engulfed me in laughter. It was one hysterical moment after another. Just when I thought I could not laugh any longer, I giggled and then laughed harder and longer than before.
The film is a sort of new-age Planes, Trains, & Automobiles (1987). Peter (Robert Downey Jr.) is leaving Atlanta and trying to return to his nearly birthing wife (Michelle Monaghan) in Los Angeles. Everything is going smoothly until Peter bumps into Ethan (Zach Galifianakis). Peter ends up stuck traveling across the country with Ethan desperately trying to be in the delivery room when his baby arrives.
The chemistry and timing between Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis is hysterical. The way that their personalities play off of each other is brilliant. Robert Downey Jr. brings a slick, suave, seriousness to his character and Galifianakis is everything but. The duo was a perfect casting match. I think that this movie is easily my favorite Robert Downey Jr. movie and could be the best movie that Zach Galifianakis is in.
The humor is clever and raunchy and about everything else in between. But, it is all mostly just well-crafted. The writers: Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedman, Adam Sztykiel, and Todd Phillips, took a very basic idea for a story and screenplay and let their imaginations run wild.
Due Date is directed by Todd Phillips. He continues his trend of directing and being a part of hilarious movies. I didn’t realize that he also directed The Hangover (2009), The Hangover Part II (2011), The Hangover Part III (2013), School for Scoundrels (2006), Starsky and Hutch (2004), Old School (2003), and Road Trip (2000) among others. That is a heck of a comedy resume! If you liked any of those movies, than you will definitely like Due Date.
If you have not seen this movie, I implore you to do so. It is available to rent on Netflix, or just go out and buy it. It is not currently available at the Redbox. I have probably seen it 5 times now and it was highly amusing every time. You will not be disappointed.
I rate this movie a 9.5 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? BUY!
If you liked Due Date (2010), then you might enjoy Identity Thief (2013).
Note: I did you a favor by only posting the teaser trailer for this movie. The full-length preview shows way too much.