The Crew works for several reasons. The clever script is reminiscent of an old Billy Wilder movie, following four "past their prime" wiseguys from Jersey who now live in the Raj Mahal Apartment House in Miami Beach. The wiseguys find themselves being evicted from their "golden paradise" by greedy landlords bent on raising rents for new beach bunnies and boys looking for beachfront property. The four mobsters, Bobby Bartellemeo (Richard Dreyfuss), Joey "Bats" Pistella (Burt Reynolds), Mike "The Brick" Donatelli (Dan Hedaya), and Tony "Mouth" Donato (Seymour Cassel) decide to hatch a scheme to plant there a dead body heisted from the morgue in order to drive out the new tenants and keep their home. This "simple plan" suddenly goes screwy, of course, and the boys become involved with a stripper named Ferris (Jennifer Tilly) who wants her stepmother killed, a paranoid Latin drug lord who's convinced a mysterious rival is out to get him, and a rat with its tail on fire.
The Crew works as a strong comedic vehicle driven by a great ensemble cast of talented character actors and subtle leading men. Instead of concentrating on Bobby's search for his daughter, the film gives equal screen time to all four wiseguys, balancing the production. The acting talents of such screen veterans as Dan Hedaya, Seymour Cassel, and the great, great Burt Reynolds are brought out by each character's uniqueness and synergy within the wiseguy circle. A strong supporting cast including Jeremy Piven as a philandering boyfriend/cop/partner and Miguel Sandoval as the paranoid drug lord provide the most laughs.
The film was produced by Barry Sonnenfeld and carries a hint Get Shorty with its energetic camera work by Michael Dinner, Emmy Award-winning director of The Wonder Years. The quick script written by Barry Fanaro, screenwriter of Kingpin, is carried by plenty of subtly dry humor and wit.
The Crew is a prime example of how simple and dry-witted a comedy can get these days. The great thing is that this comedy does not need to be punctuated by bodily fluids, phallus symbols in the head, or grandmothers giving head in a spa. In the steady flow of "extreme" comedy these days flowing from Hollywood like a broken water main, it's the elder statesmen like Dreyfuss, Reynolds, and Hedaya that can carry a comic arc with only a few weapons of choice - a decent script and good acting.
The Crew schemes.
Run time: 88 mins
In Theaters: Friday 25th August 2000
Box Office USA: $12.5M
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 20%
Fresh: 17 Rotten: 68
IMDB: 5.6 / 10
Director: Michael Dinner
Screenwriter: Barry Fanaro
Starring: Scot Williams as Ged Brennan, Kenny Doughty as Ratter, Rory McCann as Moby, Stephen Graham as Franner, Rosie Fellner as Pamela Thompson, Philip Olivier as Paul the Hom, Tim Dantay as Steady George, Raza Jaffrey as Keith Thompson, Mehmet Ferda as Dusan, Francis Magee as Dermot, Cordelia Bugeja as Debs, Rebecca Doyle as Smockheads