On its surface, Knockaround Guys may not have the appearance of a film that should be the best work of someone who has the resume of Hollywood producer Lawrence Bender. However, sometimes appearances can be deceiving and the fact of the matter is that despite producing movies like Pulp Fiction and Good Will Hunting, Knockaround Guys is my favorite Lawrence Bender film.
Knockaround Guys is the story of the son of a mob boss named Matty and his efforts to gain his father’s approval and earn a place at the top of the hierarchy of the family business. Matty gets his chance when someone begins stealing money from his father and his father gives him an assignment to retrieve a bag of money to ensure that it does not fall into the wrong hands. Matty enlists the help of his friend Johnny to fly his plane to pick up the bag of money. However, on his way back with the money, Johnny stops in Montana to refuel his plane and while there, the money is stolen. Matty and his friends Chris and Taylor head up to Montana and together with Johnny attempt to retrieve the bag of money before Matty’s father finds out.
Knockaround Guys may sound like your standard fish out of water mafia movie, and that is because in many ways, it is. However, what sets this film apart and makes it my favorite Lawrence Bender movie to date is the performances, particularly those of Barry Pepper (Matty) and Vin Diesel (Taylor), and the chemistry of the cast in general. Chemistry is sorely underrated when it comes to critiquing films and as a result, movies like Knockaround Guys, which have superior chemistry but may be lacking in other areas, are often underrated as well.
Lawrence Bender graduated from The University of Maine with a degree in Civil Engineering, which is a far cry from where the Bronx native’s life would eventually take him. After deciding to pursue a career as a producer, Bender came out of the gates on fire. His early films include Reservoir Dogs, Good Will Hunting and Pulp Fiction, with the latter two winning Academy Awards. Lawrence Bender has also produced other groundbreaking films, including Jackie Brown, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Kill Bill: Vol. 2 and An Inconvenient Truth.