A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Wise Guys" tells the story of Harry and Moe, two low-level hoodlums who become the toys of the Mafia gods. They're just ordinary guys, working stiffs who live next door to each other in houses tucked under a New Jersey expressway.
They dream of the day when they'll be assigned to really important jobs, like shaking down widows. But when the godfather holds his morning staff meetings in the back booth of his favorite restaurant, these guys get humiliated: Their job is to pick up the boss's laundry.
The two friends are played by Joe Piscopo, as Moe Dickstein, and Danny DeVito, as Harry Valentini. They move with easy familiarity through the world of the mob; sometimes the little guys get the best view. They know all about the system of enforcement and discipline and punishment. They know so much, in fact, that when they screw up, when they do something that is very, very bad, they don't even have to be told they're dead. It goes without saying.
Here's what they do. They go to the track with Fixer, the mob's chief enforcer (played by Captain Lou Albano, the gigantic professional wrestler). Their assignment is to place a bet for Tony, the boss (Dan Hedaya). DeVito starts thinking, which is always dangerous. The boss has been betting on the wrong horses for weeks. They could be heroes by placing the money on the nose of the horse that DeVito knows will win. Better still, they could get rich by betting on the winning horse and then letting Fixer and the boss believe the money was lost.