Veteran character actor Davi co-writes, produces, directs and stars in this meager, low-key dramedy about a pair of washed-up doo-wop singers (Davi, Palminteri) who decide to plan a heist to turn their fortunes around. Davi comes up with a unique heist target—a lab where dentists store gold for crowns—but the crime itself ends up being such a minor part of the story that it’s baffling why he includes it all. Most of the movie is just about Davi’s Danny and Palminteri’s George shooting the breeze with their buddies, trying to get their romantic lives in order and working at the restaurant owned by their brassy aunt.
The characters are largely one-dimensional stereotypes, the dialogue is functional at best, and Davi’s directing is a little too “look at me I’m making my first movie” showy. There are a few nice moments here and there, though, mostly when Peter Bogdanovich shows up as Danny and George’s well-meaning but wholly ineffective manager. The film’s biggest fault is its lack of dramatic tension; for two guys apparently right on the edge of losing everything, Danny and George have it remarkably easy. Nearly every problem (including any glitches in the heist) is solved right after it presents itself. Other than a few reliable and relaxed actors working their way through sub-par material, the only thing The Dukes has going for it is a soundtrack full of appealing oldies. That music is timeless, but the shtick in this movie is way past its expiration date.