Along for the ride is Nick's enigmatic girlfriend Diane (Sarah Trigger of Pet Sematary II "fame"), whose character can be summed up as "she's mysterious." When Nick heads into a gas station for a celebratory pack of gum, he leaves Joe and Diane alone in the car, setting the stage for a battle of subtle wit and steamy innuendo. Take it away, Diane!
DIANE: Maybe we're both just running around in circles, and just happened to touch. The sun and the moon do that.
(she turns to look meaningfully at Joe)
DIANE: They call it an eclipse.
Holy fuck, where do we even begin with that one? Before Diane can commit any more crimes against astrophysics, prose, and basic human decency, Nick jumps back in the car and they're off to a strip club run by The Baby, a fat black man who owes Lou $1500 for some reason. Joe decides to pay this debt off with his own money while pretending he got the cash from The Baby, just to ensure that Nick will eventually find out and get really pissed. (Obviously if you're ever out on the town with an unstable coke addict that you just met, you would want to antagonize him as much as possible.)
After Nick leaves, Diane follows Joe back to his motel room for some pointless dialogue and the obligatory awkward sex scene, which she goes at with all the gusto of somebody who didn't realize that her contract had a nudity clause in it. Nick, meanwhile, is dying to figure out what sort of Jedi mind games Joe used to get the money earlier, so it's back to the strip club to talk to The Baby:
NICK: The Baby's a little cranky tonight, huh?
BABY: Yeah, I don't dig looking at your ugly face. Now your partner, he was a cool dude.
NICK: Cool enough to get the Baby to burp up fifteen hundred?!
To get the full effect of that line, try saying it out loud in monotone while clenching your teeth together as hard as you can. The Baby goes on to explain that Joe settled the debt with his own money, and he bets that Joe is after Nick's job. Needless to say, Nick is slightly perturbed by this revelation, and exits the club in a fashion befitting a man of his stature, which is to say in a hellstorm of flailing arms, sucker punches and wall-to-wall obscenity. There's no description that can possibly do this scene justice, so you'll just have to see it for yourself.
Things go from bad to worse for Nick, as a man who looks like Fidel Castro follows him into the alley and tries to strangle him. After working off his frustration with some quiet meditation, by which we mean throwing a temper tantrum while making faces that were once thought to be medically impossible, Nick storms off to wreak horrible vengeance on Lou, who happens to be hanging around his office in the middle of the night for no goddamn good reason. That's right, he's taking revenge on Lou instead of on Joe, the guy who's trying to steal his job and girlfriend. We're not sure why, but we have a theory and bear with us because it gets a little complicated: This movie sucks.
In a preview of what David Blaine will be reduced to in five years, Nick forces one of his stupid card tricks on Lou at gunpoint. Unsatisfied with Lou's appreciation of the magical arts, Nick then drags him down to the market for some light murder by deep fryer:
Alas, Nick has forgotten the first rule of movie villainy: The more elaborately you try to kill somebody, the more likely you are to have your own deathtrap turned against you. Right on cue, Joe does a superman dive across the counter, and after a brief struggle Nick dies a crispy and partially hydrogenated death.
This looks pretty bad, but they'll just slap John Travolta's face on there and he'll be good to go.Back in his office, Lou celebrates his newfound lease on life by admiring one of his prized possessions - a wedding ring inside a box shaped like a three-layer cake. Yes, this is the fabled cake that Joe has been in search of for so long. Yes, it was meant for Joe's mother, who Lou was going to propose to until his twin brother beat him to the punch. No, it has no connection to anything else in the movie, nor will it ever come up again. Joe doesn't even take the goddamn thing when Lou offers it to him. There hasn't been a mystery this pointless and unsatisfying since "Nancy Drew and the Case of What Number Am I Thinking Of."
With the first two-thirds of the movie totally invalidated, there's nothing to do but move forward to the next big con. Lou lists off all of the tools of the trade that Joe will need - the bread, the bait, the kicker. Ha ha, their strange vocabulary transports us to a magical world of confidence tricksters, where nothing is as it seems! Unfortunately it's a world without Nicolas Cage, which is a barren and somber place indeed. But there is one man who can make everything right again. Someone who is so awe-inspiring, so bi-winning, that even a tiny dose of him will threaten to melt your face clean off.
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With college finals approaching, it's time once again for Microsoft Word autosummaries of all the old, boring books you were supposed to read.
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