Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:27 - Released 8/25/00

If there ever was a film designed to keep an actor's face and name in the public consciousness at the minimum expense, it would be Michael Dinner's The Crew. We all know Oscar-winner Richard Dreyfuss has done some impressive work over the years, but this film is not to be confused with one of those; it is a throwaway from the word go. Alongside Dreyfuss is Burt Reynolds, Dan Hedaya, and Seymour Cassel, phoning in their performances as four former wiseguys who get back into the business in their golden years. This film's been compared to the recent Clint Eastwood vehicle Space Cowboys, but that film had much more heart and soul than this.

Written by Barry Fanaro, The Crew centers around a gang of four former Mafiosi: there's Bobby Bartellemeo (Dreyfuss), who regrets losing touch with his ex-wife and daughter; Joey "Bats" Pistella (Reynolds), a hothead whose short temper costs him every legit job he's tried; Mike "The Brick" Donatelli (Hedaya), the dumb guy who has taken up embalming dead homeless people as a hobby (he makes them look "happy"); and Tony "Mouth" Donato (Cassel), a pyromaniac who seldom speaks. When their rundown Miami Beach hotel, the Raj Mahal, threatens to raise the rent, the guys decide to make some money by staging a fake hit with one of Mike's recently laid-out bodies. They blow the grinning corpse's head off and leave a note, only to discover that the body is the late father of Latino drug lord Raul Ventana (Miguel Sandoval), so their plan to score some easy cash backfires in two ways, attracting attention from both the national media and the infuriated Ventana, who swears to bring these wiseguys down. In a side plot, this attention causes an uneasy reunion between Bobby and his long lost daughter, Detective Olivia Neal (Carrie-Anne Moss).

Director Dinner and writer Fanaro both tried some cute references in this film, borrowing scenes and lines from such classics as Goodfellas, Casino, The Godfather, and even Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. But for the most part, the actors looked as bored as I was. Reynolds clearly knows that he's appearing in a late summer filler piece; he seems to be saying "let's get this over with" during every take. Cassel looks pleased, and rightly so, that he got cast as the silent partner (fewer lines = less work). Hedaya, to his credit, tries to give The Brick a little personality, but Fanaro's script subjects him to all the textbook dumb guy gimmicks. Meanwhile, Dreyfuss, who not only appears as front man but narrates the entire film with consistently annoying voiceovers, is about as unconvincing as an Italian Jew as he could be. Listening to him saying "fugeddaboutit" over and over was almost as irritating as listening to Hugh Grant say it in Mickey Blue Eyes. The difference is, Grant was doing it badly on purpose. Ultimately, The Crew makes fun of Jews, Italians, Latinos, and people who live in Miami. Oh, yeah, and anyone who pays to get in.

Copyright 2000 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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