2000; Rated PG-13; 87 Minutes
Burt Reynolds: Joey "Bats" Pistella
Richard Dreyfuss: Bobby Bartellemeo
Dan Hedaya: Mike "The Brick" Donatelli
Seymour Cassel: Tony "Mouth" Donato
Carrie-Anne Moss: Olivia Neal
Jennifer Tilly: Ferris 'aka Maureen' Lowenstein
Lainie Kazan: Pepper Lowenstein
Jeremy Piven: Det. Steve Menteer
Produced by Lisa Ellzey, Michael S. Glick, Barry
Josephson, Andria Litto, George Litto, Barry Sonnenfeld,
and Zane Weiner; Directed by Michael Dinner; Screenwritten
by Barry Fanaro
by DAVID KEYES
Crew” is a childish, muggy and revolting mobster caper that
is splintered by endless idiotic complexity, then sent off
the deep end by the jaw-dropping participation from some
of cinema’s most revered screen actors. Most moviegoers
will likely compare it to the recent “Space Cowboys,” which
made a similar outing by taking aging stars and splicing
them into a story that required the kind of skill usually
seen in the younger crowd of thespians. The basic difference?
The premise of the first picture—old astronauts being launched
into orbit—is at least constructed with genuine interest.
How is it possible to show enthusiasm at a movie that matches
its old codgers with a screenplay pasted together from various
soap opera clichés?
the center of this banal premise are four main characters:
Joey “Bats” Pistella (Burt Reynolds), Mike “The Brick” Donatelli
(Dan Hedaya), Tony “Mouth” Donato (Seymour Cassel), and
Bobby Bartellemeo (Richard Dreyfuss), whose missing nickname
inspires one of the many dry gags used in the script. The
four oldsters, who just happen to be ex-mobsters living
in the same retirement home (no coincidence intended, I’m
sure), enjoy the seemingly simple life in their run-down
community until a proposal for expansion and remodeling
is brought forth in the plot. Unwilling to part with the
current state of their lives, the four men scheme to lay
a corpse out in the hall and make it look as if he were
murdered there, thus forcing the property value to plummet.
Unfortunately, the body they have acquired is the presumed-missing
father of an in-town mobster, who now thinks the four men
are responsible for daddy’s death.
story doesn’t end there, but rather, chooses to venture
into so many new directions that we give up hope of gaining
a the slightest interest. Two major subplots emerge alongside
the core story, one involving the kidnapping of a woman
and another having a police officer learn that one of the
geezers she’s investigating is actually her father. If that
isn’t enough, the movie manages to squeeze all of this (and
more) in at less than 90 minutes, moving so fast at points
that there’s no opportunity to develop a simple fixation
on the story or its characters. And since the humor level
doesn’t even reach ground zero, this makes the experience
much more dreary and irritating.
Fanaro’s story is so obviously conniving and wretched that,
if movies were human beings and critics were their criminal
judges, most of us would opt to send it to death row. There
is not one moment of mild merit here: no wit, no creativity,
no inspiration, and no apparent desire to even attempt these
attributes. After about a half hour during the movie’s run,
I eventually found myself comparing this rendition to the
events following an overturned oil rig—you know, the kind
of disaster that could be prevented, but once it’s done,
everyone involved would rather watch the flames instead
of put out the fire. “The Crew” certainly had an opportunity
to prevent an inept outcome, and mercy knows it could have
even redeemed itself with some kind of plausible humor even
in the midst of the crummy story, but alas, neither of these
scenarios matter to anyone on and off screen. All that the
filmmakers seem to care about is watching the four actors
move around each other and hope that their experience will
give the dialogue and story an ounce of credibility. Too
bad the actors don’t care, either.
Cowboys” wasn’t exactly a great film to begin with, but
it had the kind of spirit and energy that glittered all
of the efforts. My advice is to stick with that film if
you’re looking to pass the time with four aging actors.
“The Crew” is, without a doubt, a deflated rip-off and should
be avoided like a Mariah Carey CD.
David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
Please e-mail the author here
if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.