In "Broadway's Finest," a struggling actor-playwright named Willy goes to his refrigerator for inspiration. It's mostly empty, but the door is covered with Post-it Notes offering emotional sustenance, including one that reads, "The biggest risk in life is not risking." Stephen Marro, a Long Beach filmmaker who spent a decade producing this feature debut, probably has a fridge just like it.
A labor of love about a labor of love, "Broadway's Finest" focuses on a trio of creative types: Willy (Nick Cornish), a former firefighter; Goldstone (John Lavelle), an amiable dreamer; and Lewis (Adam Storke), a recovering drug abuser. During an acting class, they improvise a cop scenario with such gusto that a Broadway talent scout (Larry Pine) wants to produce the play. Now the guys just have to write one.
Scrambling for material (a ride-along with two bored cops, played by a very funny Robert Clohessy and Robert Funaro, bears little fruit), our heroes decide to purchase fake badges and guns and whip up their own excitement. Anything for art -- though it turns out that criminals prefer real bullets.
After this promising twist, though, "Broadway's Finest" doesn't know where to turn. The tone veers toward drama, but the story remains feather-light. Storke, as the troubled Lewis, steadily takes over the movie, but his energy is too dark for this caper comedy.
Still, Marro's characters speak so sincerely about perseverance and determination that it's hard not to respect the filmmaker for writing, directing and producing a finished feature. His work has clearly paid off: "Broadway's Finest" has earned several awards from small festivals, including the Long Island International Film Expo and the Hoboken International Film Festival.
PLOT Three hopeful playwrights cross the line between fiction and reality. Unrated (language, violence, nudity)
CAST Adam Storke, John Lavelle, Nick Cornish
PLAYING AT Malverne Cinema
BOTTOM LINE Rough around the edges, but Long Beach filmmaker Stephen Marro deserves credit for writing, directing and producing this home-grown comedy.