The Crew Screws Up

The Crew is now playing in theaters nationwide.

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Hollywood is always looking for new ways to laugh at old people, but

making a decent fogie flick is a tough proposition. Most of the geriatric

stereotypes that Hollywood delivers are as ancient and tired as the old

folks they attempt to depict. The bad gas, the cranky bowels, the bickering

in blustery New York accents - we've seen, heard and smelled it all before.

With The Crew, we see it all again.

Riddled with crotchety clichés about elderly life, The Crew is a

comedy with as much originality and appeal as a bucket of cod-liver oil.

Both style and substance are missing in equal accord, as the film follows

the half-baked exploits of four former gangsters trying to recapture their

glory days of armed heists, firebombs and bone-breaking. From their

beachside porch outside the last remaining retirement home in South Beach,

Miami, the geezers grumpily reminisce about old times while their newfound

purpose in life, it seems, is to leer at the glistening, hard-bodied

youngsters streaming past them while acting as pissy as humanly possible.

Actors Richard Dreyfuss, Burt Reynolds, Dan Hedaya and Seymour Cassell

play the foursome with little in the way of charm or charisma. Their

characters are lost in a wilderness of Hollywood banality, somewhere in

between Goodfellas gusto and Cocoon cuteness. At times

wizened and miserable, at others violent and ridiculously macho, the men

stumble through old age bored and alone, dragging viewers along with them.

Having spent the last few decades rotting in the Florida heat, the crew

is pushed into action by a housing market which favors seafront property

and fantasizes over yuppy checkbooks. Rent is rising at their beloved Raj

Majal residence hotel and gangsters don't have pension plans, so financial

troubles begin for the piss-poor group.

After losing consciousness during a minor heart attack, Reynold's

character, Joey "Bats" Pistella, comes up with a scheme to keep their pad.

It goes a little something like this: the guys will sneak into a mortuary,

grab a random corpse, drag it to the Raj Majal lobby, blow its already dead

face off with a shotgun and make it all look like a professional mob job.

Then they'll kick back and watch rent prices plummet while the yuppies run

for the hills.

All goes as planned until it's revealed that the now headless corpse

was the father of Raul Ventana, South Florida drug lord and one helluva

mean guy. As Ventana sends out his hapless thugs to wreak havoc on his

alleged enemies, the usually silent Tony "Mouth" Donato (Cassell) blabs

about the Crew's con job to a stripper-whore named Ferris, played by the

eternally annoying Jennifer Tilly. Ferris uses the Mouth's pillowtalk to

blackmail his buddies and contracts them to kill her stepmother, who as

chance has it, lives next door to Señor Ventana.

"A coincidence is a coincidence until it isn't a coincidence anymore,"

says Dreyfuss' Bobby Bartellemeo. Sure. For a bunch of wiseguys, these

oldtimers seem strangely deficient in the common sense category. The same

goes for the film's producers, Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black,

Get Shorty) and Barry Josephson (The Fifth Element,

Anaconda) who selected Dreyfuss and Reynolds to head the cast. These

well-known and well-respected actors are neither aged nor feeble enough to

fit comfortably into character. Looking at least ten - if not twenty -

years younger than their fellow South Beach retirees, who delight in

afternoon bingo and ballroom dancing, these men seem more indolent than


Slothful behavior is an ailment that runs rampant in The Crew.

Lazy characterizations abound, tired stereotypes flourish and viewers feel

themselves getting older by the minute.


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