Once Upon a Time in Venice (NR)

Action/Adventure 94 min. June 16, 2017
By Craig D. Lindsey
I've never seen a movie do more to accommodate its star's schedule than Once Upon a Time in Venice must have for Bruce Willis. Director Mark Cullen wrote and produced the movie with his brother Robb; they were the screenwriters for the Kevin Smith buddy comedy Cop Out, which also starred Willis. You'd think being front-row witnesses to the well-documented hell that Willis put Smith through on that set would've prevented them from seeking out Willis. But here he is, and you can tell -- from the clumsy editing to the awkward close-ups to the obvious body-double shots to the scatterbrained plot that seems mostly made up on the fly — that Willis was hardly there for most of the shoot. And even when he is in the movie, he's still barely present, either phoning it in or hamming it up.

He plays a wisecracking, Venice Beach–based private detective (of course!) who goes through the usual crazy stuff, including battling drug dealers, gangbangers and other shady low-lifes, in order to retrieve his kidnapped dog. John Goodman (as his eccentric best friend) and Silicon Valley's Thomas Middleditch (as his nebbishy partner) aid in his mission, while Jason Momoa, Famke Janssen, Kal Penn, Wood Harris and portly Borat crony Ken Davitian (rocking a gold-lamé Speedo -- Jesus!) are a few of the familiar faces who populate this painfully screwball universe. A nonsensical, pitifully assembled shitshow and a half, Once Upon a Time in Venice is a sterling example of how a lazy star can make a bad movie even worse.
Mark Cullen, Robb Cullen Bruce Willis, John Goodman, Jason Momoa, Famke Janssen, Stephanie Sigman, Thomas Middleditch, Kal Penn Mark Cullen, Robb Cullen RLJ Entertainment

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