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Shoot the Hero!

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Going out on a limb, I'd guess "Shoot the Hero!" writer/director/producer Christian Sesma has seen "Smokin' Aces" a dozen times. Maybe more.

Not to slight Joe Carnahan's action-comedy, as I like it, too. But I'd leave the Carnahan to Carnahan. This way-low-budget effort to ape those overblown, over-the-top theatrics plays as leaden as all the Quentin Tarantino copies of the mid 1990s.

Its razor-thin story is told in thirds, each focusing on a different set of characters, all of whom converge in the end. First are Nate and Kate (Jason Mewes and Samantha Lockwood), a cute couple whose long relationship is boring the female half, until he bribes their way into a jewelry store after hours to select an engagement ring.

The place is robbed by masked thugs, or at least attempted to be robbed, as the crime is foiled by a double cross, raising the ire of Crazy Joe (Danny Trejo) who wants to, y'know, even things out, forcing the unassuming lovebirds into action-hero mode.

The flick then jumps abruptly to introduce us to the Smith Brothers "? Fat (Nic Nac Nicotera) and Thin (Mike Hatton) "? who are the comic relief in a picture that already bills itself as a partial comedy. How they fit in with the others tales is predictable yet far-fetched, but at least it results in the only line I found amusing: "It smells like yogurt and dehydrated baby food."

Speaking of a-Mewes-ing, which "Shoot" is not, it's nice to see Mewes in something that doesn't have Kevin Smith's self-aggrandizing paws all over it. Cleaned up and with an 8-to-5 haircut, Mewes is barely recognizable, and that's good. Here, he proves he's much more than Jay to Smith's Silent Bob. He could carve out a nice career as a character actor ... if he gets more selective.

This is the kind of witless junk that is Trejo's stock in trade, except when Robert Rodriguez throws him a nice, meaty bone like "Machete," and Nicholas Turturro is one sad, long leap from his Emmy-nominated heights of "NYPD Blue." Sesma's helming style seems limited to "shake the camera." An attempt to be edgy or just jitters?

I hate to knock a guy who has the guts and courage to take his vision to an actual, living, breathing feature film, but that vision needs Lasik. "?Rod Lott

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