American Buffalo
R
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: -3 1/2

AMERICAN BUFFALO's title refers to a valuable nickel, not the wild west. The drama is more of a character study dealing with honor among thieves than about the coin, however. Three struggling friends in a New York City slum think the nickel will buy their way out of poverty. Don (Dennis Franz of TV's NYPD Blue) operates a neighborhood second-hand store and he is very upset that some stranger perusing the store cheated him out of this valuable coin. Bobby (Sean Nelson), an African-American teenager, hangs around Don's shop a lot. Don patiently teaches Bobby how to survive in their sordid world of gambling, stealing and cheating. Don's other friend, Teach (Dustin Hoffman), is a bum whose only livelihood is gambling. Beneath his ranting and raving about losing all his money in a card game, Teach occasionally displays shrewd reasoning powers. As Don schemes to use the eager Bobby to retrieve the coin, Teach convinces him it is a job for a professional. The dilemma each faces is trusting the other two and knowing where to draw the line between friendship and business. The whole film takes place in Don's junk store with only these three characters. The complicated relationship of these lonely men is intriguing, but the average moviegoer will find AMERICAN BUFFALO depressing and somewhat slow.

Don, Teach and Bobby have no ambition except to survive by their wits and to avoid honest work at all costs, which is quite a challenge. Don shows compassion for young Bobby when Teach becomes furious with the boy and hits him hard in the side of the head with a blunt instrument, the film's only violence. However, every conversation is smothered in obscenities that include over 100 f-words, plus many regular profanities. Crude references to women acquaintances and former lovers are probably intended to reveal the source of some of the older men's hurt and loneliness. Still, these references are extremely offensive. Greed, misdirected anger and hopelessness have embittered Don and Teach. The crafty, sneaky Bobby has learned a lot, but it's easy to see only a miracle will save him from repeating his friends' mistakes. AMERICAN BUFFALO's depressing theme and incessant foul language will offend, not entertain.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Distributor: The Samuel Goldwyn Company, 10203 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90067-6403

Summary
Crude Language: Many (20) times - Mild 1, Moderate 19
Obscene Language: Many (178) times F-word 127, s-word 37, other 14
Profanity: Many (16) times - All regular (C 5, J 1, GD 4, G 6)
Violence: Once - Severe (boy hit in side of head with a blunt instrument)
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Crude references to women's anatomy
Drug Abuse: None
Other:
Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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