Whereas most troubled films are tired retreads of a certain type of movie,
"The Crew" achieves an amazing feat by exhausting two different subgenres at
once: (1) the Mafia comedy, and (2) those that view senior citizens as
nothing but wild, wacky, and one-note people. Clearly intended to be the
mobster version of "Grumpy Old Men," "The Crew," inauspiciously directed by
Michael Dinner, does not have a fresh or invigorating bone in its brief, yet
overlong, 88-minute body. The movie almost literally crawls to its finish
line, leaving you feeling afterwards as if you have just awoken from a
completely ordinary and rather tedious bad dream. To say "The Crew" is easily
one of the more forgettable cinematic excursions of 2000 is almost an
understatement. Tellingly, I had forgotten much of what I'd seen by the time
I exited the darkened theater.
Sixtysomething Bobby Bartellemeo (Richard Dreyfuss), who, along with best
friends Joey "Bats" Pistella (Burt Reynolds), Mike "The Brick" Donatelli (Dan
Hedaya), and Tony "Mouth" Donato (Seymour Cassel), used to be a Mafiosi
foursome in their younger years, now lives in an increasingly geriatric
apartment building in Miami Beach. Over the years, their wild lifestyles have
predictably simmered down as their everyday existence has grown to follow a
In order to affect their building's property value, the four conspire to
stage a faux-murder in the lobby using one of the deceased bodies that "The
Brick" has just recently made up at his make-up job in a funeral home. The
pure exhilaration of such an act single-handedly energizes the boys, helping
them to recall the one-of-a-kind times they had as young men. When "Mouth,"
ironically named because he speaks very little aside from after having sex,
blabs about their most recent scam to high-priced stripper/call girl Ferris
(Jennifer Tilly), she, in return, threatens to expose their crime if they
don't do her a small favor: murder her wealthy stepmother (Lainie Kazan).
Meanwhile, Bobby, pondering over the memory of his cute, little daughter from
years ago, experiences a stroke of fate when he comes into contact with an
investigator (Carrie-Anne Moss) who very well could be his long-lost child.
Such a self-discovery is one thing for Bobby, but figuring out how to tell
her and salvage a possible relationship is quite another.
Amazingly written by snappy "Golden Girls" alum Barry Fanaro, "The Crew" is a
deadeningly paced and scripted journey through a few days in the lives of
four generic, over-the-hill personalities, none of which prove to ever be
engaging. Because of the dull proceedings within the shaky screenplay, the
seasoned actors--Richard Dreyfuss, who narrates for 80% of the movie; Burt
Reynolds, who is aging surprisingly gracefully; Dan Hedaya; and Seymour
Cassel--have no choice but to exaggerate their every move in order to cover
up the many technical problems with the production. No one of them ever
particularly stands out, nor are any of them given more than fleeting
development or comic chances.
As Bobby's now-grown daughter, Carrie-Anne Moss (1999's "The Matrix") brings
a genuine emotion to her underutilized role and so assuredly carries all of
her scenes that one can't help but wish the film had centered on her
relationship with her father, rather than the consistent gimmicks. Jennifer
Tilly (1998's "Bride of Chucky") is an always-welcome quirky addition to a
movie's cast, yet is constantly cast in the same type of sexpot role, while
Lainie Kazan has some fun as Tilly's somewhat Waspish stepmom. Finally,
Jeremy Piven (1998's "Very Bad Things") is wasted as Moss' womanizing
ex-boyfriend and investigative partner.
For an interminable hour-and-a-half, "The Crew" gets its jollies at wasting
the time of its unsuspecting viewers. Considering how featherweight and
distressingly unfunny the proceedings are, one wonders if anyone connected to
the production, particularly director Dinner, ever acknowledged the corner
they had backed themselves into with this purely vacuous affair. One would
assume so, but there is unfortunately no sign of a last-minute attempt to
even remotely rescue this "comedic" DOA dud.
Copyright © 2000 Dustin Putman