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Whatever Happened To The Jerky Boys?

Hollywood Shuffle

Shyness, however, would not get in the way of Munao’s plan for a feature movie. Translating the Jerky Boys’ brand of humor to film was a challenge, but capitalizing on their popularity was a no-brainer to studio executives. Munao says Johnny and Kamal met with 12 studios before signing with Touchstone. The duo split $1 million and were pegged to become even bigger stars. “It was a real hot project,” recalls journeyman actor James Lorinz, who played wannabe gangster Brett Weir in the film. “My agent kept saying it was going to be another Wayne’s World.” 
 
The Jerky Boys’ movie had an $8 million budget and was shot in the spring of 1994 on the Queens streets they grew up on. On set Johnny and Kamal were distant, often arguing or not speaking at all for long stretches. During downtime Kamal escaped to play Wiffle Ball with local kids while Johnny signed autographs. 
 
Released on February 3, 1995, the movie flopped. The guys’ on-camera awkwardness and the lack of chemistry splashed across the big screen did not a hit make. The plot was vapid and the script watered-down—Lorinz remembers reading a raunchier script during casting. Opening-week numbers were middling, but a snowstorm hit the Northeast soon after, and the movie was buried. “Word got out immediately that the movie was not good,” says then-New York Daily News gossip columnist A. J. Benza. “It didn’t portray at all how funny these guys were. I don’t know if a movie could.”

Illustrated by Sean Taggart | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

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Despite being littered with “Jerky­isms”—“sizzle chest,” “liver lips,” and, of course, “squeaky balls”—fans never embraced the film. Critics were even tougher; The New York Times called the film “virtually jokeless.” Nor has it aged well. The film has a 3.9 out of 10 IMDb user rating, and Disney, which owns Touchstone, never released it on DVD. “We were trying to make a film everyone could see,” says the director, James Melkonian. “I think since it was already R-rated, we could have pushed that more.” 

Soon after, Munao sold the Jerky Boys to Mercury Records, but talent agency CAA dropped them as clients. “It ended our careers,” Kamal says. “It was all John’s fault, because Warner Bros. wanted us, and we could have made a rougher movie. But he wanted to go with Disney.” Johnny agrees that it was indeed his choice. “At the end of the day, I did decide to go with Disney.” 

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