28 April 2004 | george.schmidt
Abysmal 'alleged' comedy
THE CREW (2000) * Richard Dreyfuss, Burt Reynolds, Seymour Cassel, Dan Hedaya, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jennifer Tilly, Jeremy Piven, Lainie Kazan, Miguel Sandoval. (Dir: Michael Dinner) There's been a spate of gangster related comedies in the past few years thanks largely to the success of HBO's blockbuster series `The Sopranos' and the Billy Crystal/Robert De Niro comedy `Analyze This'. Which can only explain why the latest in the subgenre - thugcomedy - has squeaked by and falls short of its predecessors as if stumbling in cement shoes.
A foursome of retired gangsters contemplate their golden years in sunny Florida while wondering where they went wrong in the long run sets the premise for this woefully unfunny comedy that fails to elicit a smile let alone a laugh.
Bobby Bartellemeo (Dreyfuss slumming big time) is the ring-leader of the Grumpy Old Gangsters who pines for his long-lost daughter; Bats Pistella (Reynolds fading on his comeback from the vapors of `Boogie Nights') would rather die in a blaze of glory when he's not too busy getting ideas after being clunked on the head; The Brick Donatelli (the usual estimable Hedaya) works part-time in a morgue painting up the stiffs to look like clowns and The Mouth Donato (Cassell) is the ladies' man with a gift of gab (unbeknownst to his colleagues who think he's practically a mute). The friends become embroiled in a scheme to save their retirement lodgings in a decrepit hotel by `killing' a corpse (with the aid of The Brick's workplace) to put the fear into the housing development community which only sets the police to investigate.
Enter Detective Olivia Neal (the foxy Moss late of `The Matrix') and her estranged boyfriend/partner Detective Steve Menteer (Piven, completely wasted of his comic talent here) to check out the geezers' residence and escalate their workload when the guys are offered a hit job by The Mouth's stripper girlfriend Ferris (bodacious cartoon Tilly getting her ya-yas out) to whack her stepmother, the obnoxious deli franchise owner Pepper Lowenstein (Kazan who is pushing maximum density to her zaftig voluptuousness). Their attempt to do the job results in only pissing off the local drug czar, Raul Ventana (Sandoval), who seeks revenge when the corpse they've `offed' turns out to be his Alzheimer's ridden father. Are you laughing yet? Not only does the film creak and groan and diminish the talents of the entire cast but reduces Piven to a toe-sucker, Moss to an unbelievable plot point of unbelieveablilty (she's Dreyfuss' missing daughter!) and to see Reynolds in some painful slapstick not seen since his `Cannonball Run' heydey is just plain sad. Nor did I even believe any of the crew being actual mob guys. They were not menacing, street-smart or credible. Much could be said of the lame production itself. I did not for once find any of this amusing and couldn't wait to get out of the theatre. Don't make the same mistake I did.