Shooting up, down, and all over town in ‘Oxy-Morons’
Johnny Hickey is a local guy who formerly used and dealt Oxycontin. Having seen the light, he decided to write, direct, and star in a filmic cautionary tale about his experiences.
That movie, “Oxy-Morons,’’ is the latest on-location patrol down Charlestown’s mean streets. We hear about the code of silence and housing projects and racism. Characters have names like Fruit Loops, Nutzy, and Beanzy. Other characters have lines like “Your father deserved to die: He was weak’’ and “It’s going to be all over Channel 7!’’ Those are two of the few bits of dialogue quotable here in toto, since more f-bombs get dropped than there are pills in a pharmacy. And this is a movie that knows its pills.
Brothers Danny (Hickey) and Jason (David Burns) are a couple of Townie hoods. When their mother gets prescribed a new painkiller called Oxycontin, they see a career opportunity. They start knocking over drugstores and selling the drug. Bad idea. They also start using it. Worse idea.
Former Bruin Lyndon Byers shows up, as does Michele McPhee, of talk radio and Herald fame. She plays the doctor who prescribes the Oxycontin. If only she hadn’t listened to that creepy pharmaceutical sales rep!
“Oxy-Morons’’ isn’t as terrible as the title suggests. Hickey’s low-budget effort has real, if jittery, energy. The acting is consistently overwrought, but that’s what the script calls for. None of the performers embarrass themselves.
Hickey doesn’t let financial constraints daunt him. That said, using a handheld camera during a chase scene when you can’t afford a Steadicam is never a good idea. “Oxy-Morons’’ has flashbacks (in black and white) and an extended dream sequence. There’s at least one aerial shot. Around 40 actors have speaking parts. One of the robberies has a line involving a frappe that’s worthy of Clemenza’s immortal “Leave the gun, take the cannoli,’’ from “The Godfather.’’ The frappe line is almost as funny as another, toward the end, “White boys is flyin’ today, dude!’’
Energy and ambition — familiar locations, too — will take a movie only so far. “Oxy-Morons’’ shares a setting with “Mystic River’’ and “The Town,’’ and an over-the-top crooked-cop plot angle with “The Departed’’ (speaking of which, and that “flyin’ line,’’ Martin Sheen might find at least one scene here uncomfortably familiar). But Hickey’s movie is nowhere near their league. And that’s true even in the one area where you might expect “Oxy-Morons’’ to be superior, local credibility. What are three guys from Suffolk County who took a plea bargain doing in Barnstable County Jail? Except maybe Hickey’s trying to get at a larger truth. Even Townies want to end up living on the Cape.
Mark Feeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.