Senior Citizen Mobster Movie Aims for Comedy
DIRECTED BY MICHAEL DINNER/2000
BLU-RAY STREET DATE: MAY 15, 2018/KINO LORBER STUDIO CLASSICS
The tag line on the back of the Blu-Ray case for The Crew says “Goodfellas meets Grumpy Old Men“, and that there seems to be the most succinct description. Starring a top notch cast, The Crew tries to provide a comedic vehicle for some aging stars who still have loads of charisma to pull off what would be an otherwise mundane comedy poking fun at the typical mob movie.
Bobby (Richard Dreyfuss), Joey “Bats” (Burt Reynolds), Mike “The Brick” (Dan Hedaya), and Tony “The Mouth” (Seymour Cassel) have been friends since they were kids. As they grew up, they became their own crew, pulling off all kinds of crime jobs as the mobsters they were. They were larger than life before age caught up with them, and the culture changed around them.
Now, they live in a run-down Miami Beach Hotel, The Raj Mahal, that is being bought up by trendy hipsters as soon as one of the hotel’s old-timers bite the dust. Our crew of loveable seniors, however, is sick of living on very little, and having to find satisfaction at Bingo nights, and arriving early for all-you-can-eat buffets.
Seeking to experience a taste of their glory days, the crew pull off a macabre stunt of shooting a cadaver, that they pulled from the morgue where Mike works, in the lobby of their building to try and scare away the hipsters and help lower their rent. Unbeknownst to them, the body they used was the father of Raul Ventana (Miguel Sandoval), a drug lord, who believes this hit on his father (who was already dead) was a message from his competitors and is now seeking revenge on everyone involved.
This one act will eventually blow up to comedic proportions where it will involve Detective Olivia Neal (Carrie-Anne Moss), as Bobby’s possibly long-lost daughter, and her partner, Detective Steve Menteer (Jeremy Piven), a terrible womanizer who is only on the case to win back Olivia. There is also a stripper named Ferris “aka Maureen” Lowenstein (Jennifer Tilly), and her step-mother Pepper Lowenstein (the wonderful Lainie Kazan), who are able to further involve the crew in even more crime that may put them in them the cross-hairs of Raul Ventana and the police who are on the case. If they’re going to get out of this one, they’re going to have to recruit every wise-guy in the Miami area, and show Raul some old school mobster force.
Michael Dinner, largely a television director who also handled the 1988 Bobcat Goldthwait film Hot to Trot, directs the film from a script from Barry Fanaro (Kingpin, Men in Black II, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry). Its all pretty much a saccharine affair with the script using stereotypes from pretty much any mob-based film as a catalyst to propel Dreyfuss, Reynolds, Hedaya, and Cassel into situations that calls for them to play up their roles as these archetypes. Fortunately, these are all veterans who are able to ground their characters enough so that they don’t come off as ridiculous as the story they are placed in.
My favorite part of this whole thing is Lainie Kazan as quite possibly the greatest kidnap victim on film, ever. She is funny, endearing, feisty, and does the most with her character. While she would go on to be better known for My Big Fat Greek Wedding and its sequel, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, this is a film that shows her in fine form, actually upstaging the film’s leads. Dreyfuss has a decent story-line about his missing daughter, and has good chemistry with Carrie-Anne Moss, but there is not enough time devoted to this narrative to truly give it the emotional weight it needs by the time the credits run.
Jeremy Piven has always been a likable buffoon in many of his roles, especially The Family Man or Singles. With the recent accusations against him by former cast members, (which Piven has denied and even passed a polygraph test about, according to reports), his womanizing and lying Detective character in The Crew is one of those things that may be viewed differently through a contemporary lens when watching this film that is nearly 20 years old.
Kino Lorber Studio Classics is releasing this on Blu-Ray and providing an audio commentary by director Michael Dinner who is able to provide some fun tidbits as he worked with some big legends, and great character actors in this film. The Blu-Ray also features the original theatrical trailer for the film.
The film is in color and has a run time of 88 minutes. It is presented in 1.85:1, and 1920x1080P format. It also has audio in both 2.0 audio and 5.1 Surround.