Brought down by clichés

Los Angeles Times - - MOVIES - — Gary Gold­stein “Club Life.” No MPAA rat­ing. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 26 min­utes. Play­ing: Laemmle’s NoHo 7, North Hol­ly­wood. Also on VOD.

“Club Life” is a clichéd Brook­lyn-boy-makes-good story that feels far more retro than its 2008 set­ting.

In­spired by the ex­ploits of for­mer New York City club pro­moter Danny A. Abeck­aser, who acts here and cowrote the clunky script with Ryan O’Nan and Ryan Val­lan, the film is un­der­mined by choppy edit­ing and a pen­chant for hoary apho­risms and forced grav­i­tas.

Jerry Fer­rara (“En­tourage”) is warm and nim­ble, how­ever, as Abeck­aser proxy Johnny D, a limo driver whose fa­ther has just suf­fered a dev­as­tat­ing stroke. His work­ing-class fam­ily has no health in­sur­ance, so it falls on Johnny to find a way to pay his dad’s mount­ing hos­pi­tal bill. It’s a com­plex is­sue that goes ridicu­lously un­der-dis­cussed among Johnny, his hand-wring­ing mother (a stri­dent Tovah Feld­shuh) and weepy sis­ter (Anne Gib­bons-Brown).

En­ter Mark (Abeck­aser), a thriv­ing if sketchy night­club pro­moter who in­tro­duces Johnny to the lu­cra­tive busi­ness of “bot­tles for mod­els.” That is, round­ing up hot women to en­ter­tain a club’s big-spender pa­trons and thus cre­ate buzz. The sex­ual com­po­nent, if there is one, seems kept on the QT.

Johnny proves a nat­u­ral at the job. He’s soon rak­ing in

the bucks and be­com­ing a fix­ture on the club scene. Mean­while, his long­time girl­friend (Jes­sica Szohr, quite good), an­gered by his babe-heavy new ca­reer, dis­ap­pears for a huge chunk of the film. And what hap­pened to the fam­ily limo busi­ness?

The movie un­abashedly traf­fics in char­ac­ter types — the earnest guy on the make, the scary club boss (Robert Davi), the priv­i­leged scion (O’Nan), the vac­u­ous model, the ef­fete model-agency owner, the ar­ro­gant fat cat — with­out adding any­thing new. Di­rec­tion by Fabrizio Conte is, to be char­i­ta­ble, undis­tin­guished.

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