“Club Life” is a clichéd Brooklyn-boy-makes-good story that feels far more retro than its 2008 setting.
Inspired by the exploits of former New York City club promoter Danny A. Abeckaser, who acts here and co-wrote the clunky script with Ryan O’Nan and Ryan Vallan, the film is undermined by choppy editing and a penchant for hoary aphorisms and forced gravitas.
Jerry Ferrara (“Entourage”) is warm and nimble, however, as Abeckaser proxy Johnny D, a limo driver whose father has just suffered a devastating stroke. His working-class family has no health insurance, so it falls on Johnny to find a way to pay his dad’s mounting hospital bill. It’s a complex issue that goes ridiculously under-discussed among Johnny, his hand-wringing mother (a strident Tovah Feldshuh) and weepy sister (Anne Gibbons-Brown).
Enter Mark (Abeckaser), a thriving if sketchy nightclub promoter who introduces Johnny to the lucrative business of “bottles for models.” That is, rounding up hot women to entertain a club’s big-spender patrons and thus create buzz. The sexual component, if there is one, seems kept on the QT.
Johnny proves a natural at the job. He’s soon raking in the bucks and becoming a fixture on the club scene. Meanwhile, his longtime girlfriend (Jessica Szohr, quite good), angered by his babe-heavy new career, disappears for a huge chunk of the film. And what happened to the family limo business?
The movie unabashedly traffics in character types — the earnest guy on the make, the scary club boss (Robert Davi), the privileged scion (O’Nan), the vacuous model, the effete model-agency owner, the arrogant fatcat — without adding anything new. Direction by Fabrizio Conte is, to be charitable, undistinguished.
No MPAA rating.
Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle’s NoHo 7, North Hollywood. Also on VOD.