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KNOCKAROUND GUYS

About The Production
Writer-directors Brian Koppelman and David Levien, best friends since they were fourteen, had long wanted to do a film based on the various "sons of wiseguys" they had observed growing up. After the release of the acclaimed hit, Rounders, for which they wrote the original screenplay, they decided to approach the idea. The result was Knockaround Guys, a film about family, friends and, ultimately, freedom.

"The characters in this film have enjoyed privileged childhoods with their father's family business providing for their every want and need," explains David Levien. "Now in their early twenties, they want to make their own way in the world. But they're finding out it's not so easy to escape the shadow of their fathers."

Adds Brian Koppelman: "Their infamous last names are a handicap. When they go in for a job interview people are frightened of them. They don't want to hire them. The mob is in a state of dissolution at this point in this country and it leaves very few options for these young guys. The broader idea is that it applies to young people in general and what choice they're going to make with their lives."

Longtime fans of such classic films as The Godfather and GoodFellas, the directors couldn't figure out a fresh way to make a gangster film until they decided to take the guys out of their element. What resulted was a sort of fish out of water story where the boys had to take responsibility for their lives by relating to the rules of the old west.

Once the filmmakers got these New Yorkers into a small town in Montana where no one knew their names, a whole array of story possibilities opened up and the script quickly began to take shape. The final product is, for the filmmakers, a combination of some of their favorite genres.

"In a weird way, this is as much a western as it is a gangster film," Koppelman admits. "I mean, these guys end up in the American West. And there's a long tall sheriff in this small town in Montana with whom they wind up in a showdown. So, it's really a cross-pollenization of genres."

In many ways, the rules of criminal life could be considered the modern-day equivalent of the antiquated laws of the old West. Both center on loners who don't fit into contemporary society and make their own rules of how they're going to live life. Fights are usually over a bag of money in a milieu where everyone's loyalties and honor are constantly being questioned. And almost all of the characters in question eventually live, and die, by the rules of the gun.

It was exactly this cleverness of merging genres that attracted producer Lawrence Bender, known for his work on such "non-mainstream, mainstream" hits as Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting and Reservoir Dogs.

"I liked their different take on the genre," Bender says. "The kids in the film are guys not quite tough enough to make it as the real thing. But their last names plague them so they can't get jobs in the real world. So they kind of get stuck in the middle."

Koppelman and Levien first confronted the term "knockaround guys" after meeting various low-level denizens of the crime world while researching Rounders. During that time, they were involved from<

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