A Jersey Tale (2003) / Comedy-Drama
aka Bought & Sold

MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably R for language, sexual references, and some violence
Running Time: 90 min.

Cast: Rafael Sardina, David Margulies, Marjan Neshat, Frank Harts, Joe Grifasi, Cristina Ablaza
Director: Michael Tolajian
Screenplay: Michael Tolajian
Review published September 3, 2005

Rafael Sardina stars as Ray Ray Morales, a young Puerto Rican in New Jersey that works as a shoe salesman.  He has a girlfriend that has been constantly pressuring him to get a promotion so that they can hurry up and get married, while he dreams of a new life as a mobile DJ, constantly eyeing the DJ system for $3000 at a local pawn shop.  After an inquiry, it doesn't look like he'll be getting his promotion any time soon, and it's only a matter of time before his turntables are sold to someone else. Ray turns to his best friend Papo, known for running errands for the local crime boos, Chunks Colon, to hook him up with a few small jobs to earn him enough money to get what he wants.  Things go well, until Chunks assigns Ray to work in the pawnshop and keep an eye on the shrewd Armenian owner (Margulies, Ghostbusters) that owes him large sum of money.

It's all about the characters in this independent feature, featuring a cast of very likeable actors, and insightful dialogue to help smooth out some of the more rough patches.  It's the first film written and directed by Michael Tolojian, and it is a successful one, delivering some funny moments for the comedy while also keeping the drama real as the film heads toward the finale.  perhaps the biggest asset of A Jersey Tale is the spot-on casting, especially in the charismatic performance by Rafael Sardina (also his debut) in the lead role.  He's one of many well-cast performers though, as the supporting cast shines in their own way, with a winning turn by David Margulies as a man tired of running from the past.

A Jersey Tale may not have star power, but it is still a very worthwhile comedy that deals with serious moral, ethical, and racial dilemmas that have the ring of truth to them.  Love, loyalty, greed, business, pride, and materialistic pursuits are all explored before the end of the film, but the movie is never preachy.  Lots of up-and-coming talent to watch out for in this one.

Qwipster's rating:

2005 Vince Leo