The Deli

A genial, low-budget independent film that's long on cutesy Noo Yawk atmosphere but short on both laughs and multidimensional characters, The Deli is a slice-of-life comedy that functions as a sort of sitcom Blue In The Face. A veritable Love Boat full of second-tier celebrities (Ice-T, Burt Young, Jerry Stiller, Iman, Debi Mazar, Heavy D, and many more) pass through the titular establishment during the course of several wacky days. The deli is run by Mike Starr, the portly, gambling-addict son of its owner (Judith Malina); he sets the film's thin plot in motion by pocketing the money his mother has given him to play the numbers. Of course, her numbers come in, necessitating some fancy footwork on Starr's part to prevent her from learning of his trickery. What follows is a mild, shambling comedy that's periodically diverting but aimless, taking place in a New York that seems to consist solely of stereotypical Italian-American working-class stiffs, palookas, mobsters, overbearing women, and an endless stream of would-be Hollywood Squares regulars, each of whom is given about a minute worth of simplistic schtick. Most of the celebrity cameos are tiresome, particularly Iman's inane turn as a crazy woman obsessed with avocados, but Ice-T utilizes his trademark malevolent glower to winning comedic effect as a no-nonsense meat-delivery man. The rest of the non-celebrity cast is passable if unremarkable, with the notable exception of Brian Vincent, who does a cringe-inducingly bad Crispin Glover impersonation as a mentally ill deli worker.

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