As a veteran actor and an Oscar winner, Cuba Gooding Jr. surely had access to resources that other first-time filmmakers wouldn’t for his directorial debut “Bayou Caviar.” He had some nifty New Orleans locations and a cast that includes Richard Dreyfuss, Famke Janssen and Katharine McPhee — as well as himself. But the movie’s still a mess.
Gooding plays Rodney, a washed-up boxer turned trainer, who moonlights as a club bouncer and occasionally as muscle for the local gangs. When he ends up beholden to Russian mobster Yuri (Dreyfuss), Rodney calls on his sleazy photographer friend Nic (Janssen) to help him record one of Yuri’s enemies in an embarrassing sexual situation.
Enter Kat (Lia Marie Johnson), a local teen who aspires to be another Kardashian. About two-thirds of “Bayou Caviar” consists of damaged people manipulating each other into doing something terrible. The rest covers the aftermath.
There’s a good pulpy story scattered around “Bayou Caviar,” and these actors are more than capable of telling it. But Gooding (who also rewrote Eitan Gorlin’s original script) gets distracted by digressions and side characters, leading to a final half hour that’s tough to endure, as a lot of insignificant loose ends get tied off.
This picture tries to encompass many ideas: about loyalty, the lust for fame and the slippery slope of immoral behavior. All of that is in the film. It just hasn’t been put in any particular order.
Running time: 1 hour, 51 minutes
Playing: Starts Friday, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills