Welcome to Collinwood Movie Review

Among the ever-impressive list of projects undertaken by Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney's Section Eight production group (Ocean's Eleven, this year's Insomnia), the ironically titled Welcome to Collinwood is one of the best. Anthony and Joe Russo's lovable crime comedy, which boasts a talented comic cast -- including Clooney himself, in a small but invaluable role -- is the finest debut by a creative team since the Wachowski brothers (The Matrix) made Bound.

Basing their premiere feature on the little-seen Italian comedy Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958), the writing, directing Russos set their film -- a finely tuned, brilliantly designed, screwball romp -- in the Ohio city of the title, which they've drawn as decrepit, to say the least. Collinwood is painted as low rent, low wage, and low class, where every sidewalk square is cracked and so are the people that walk on them.

In dim, dingy Collinwood, two-bit thief Cosimo (the quietly manic Luis Guzmán) is locked in the clink, dressed in black-and-white stripes, and sitting on a secret: There's a fortune buried behind a building in town. Cosimo can get his share on the "bellini" -- a once-in-a-lifetime deal -- but needs to find someone willing to confess to his crime and do his time -- that's a "mullinsky." The creation of this ethnically based slang is one of the more genius touches of the script.

So Cosimo's girl, Rosalind (Patricia Clarkson, playing the tough moll perfectly) hits the streets to offer $15,000 to whomever will play the mullinsky. But loose lips sink Cosimo's plans, and before you can say "keep it on the QT," a merry band of wackos all want in on the big bellini.

The cast that makes up that rogues gallery is superb in the film: Isaiah Washington, affecting all manner of class and manners as Leon; William H. Macy as Riley, frustrated by his wife's imprisonment, and protective of the cute baby on his back; Andrew Davoli, playing Basil as a young scruffy dreamer in love with Leon's sister; Michael Jeter, turning old-timer Toto into a raspy, bumbling knucklehead; and, as the charming Pero, the exceptional Sam Rockwell, using such a wide array of comic gifts -- line delivery, physicality, timing -- that a strong case can be made for sending an Oscar nomination his way come early next year.

Even when the Russos add more characters to the mix, like Jennifer Esposito's innocent immigrant girl, a maid who holds the key (literally) to the fortune, everyone stays in the midst of the action. A subplot between Pero and the girl adds such delightful heart and humor to the tale, but we never feel as if the Russos have forgotten about the rest of the hapless crew. Add in a couple of brilliant scenes with producer Clooney as a shell-shocked safecracker, and this film is almost constant fun.

By designing the downtrodden Collinwood with a timeless feel -- it might be the 1930s, but it might be today -- the Russos inject their goofy caper tale with a Dead End Kids kind of charm from the get-go. They then let their superlative, classically styled script and inspired cast work the kind of magic seen in the American comedies of yesteryear.

While the final act loses a little edge and pace, so much more makes up for it. Anthony and Joe Russo have created a zippy, enormously entertaining heist movie that, with a kind heart at its core, encompasses the styles of yesterday, today, and if we're lucky, maybe even tomorrow.

Who's gotta go?


Comments

Welcome to Collinwood Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 2002

Editors Recommendations

No, AC/DC Are Not Splitting Up After All. Probably.

It looks like AC/DC fans can breathe a sigh of relief, because rumors of the band’s...

No, AC/DC Are Not Splitting Up After All. Probably.

Allergic Reaction To Blame For Miley Cyrus' Cancelled Tuesday Gig

Miley Cyrus has had it rough this week, as the star has been hospitalized for a severe allergic...

Allergic Reaction To Blame For Miley Cyrus' Cancelled Tuesday Gig

'Transcendence': Negative Reviews For Johnny Depp's 'Lone Ranger' Comeback

‘Transcendence’ is a stern Springtime test for Johnny Depp; the 50-year-old actor mooted...

'Transcendence': Negative Reviews For Johnny Depp's 'Lone Ranger' Comeback

Paul Walker's Brothers Brought In By Universal To Complete Late Actor's "Fast & Furious 7" Scenes

The team behind Fast & Furious 7 has come up with a untraditional solution to finish...

Paul Walker's Brothers Brought In By Universal To Complete Late Actor's

Game of Thrones' Jack Gleeson On Joffrey, Screen Deaths And His Indefinite Retirement

Let’s get the spoiler alert out of the way first: if you haven’t seen Season 4 Episode 2...

Game of Thrones' Jack Gleeson On Joffrey, Screen Deaths And His Indefinite Retirement

Why Did Nobody Watch The 'Mad Men' Season 7 Premiere?

We're not sure what everyone was watching on Sunday night, but the season seven premiere...

Why Did Nobody Watch The 'Mad Men' Season 7 Premiere?

The Next 'Breaking Bad'? 'Fargo' Ep. 1 Is A Must-See [Video]

New television series Fargo premiered last night on FX, giving American audiences...

The Next 'Breaking Bad'? 'Fargo' Ep. 1 Is A Must-See [Video]

Lindsay Lohan's Mother, Dina, Loses Driving Licence After Pleading Guilty To DUI

A member of the Lohan family has ran into trouble with the law, yet again...

Lindsay Lohan's Mother, Dina, Loses Driving Licence After Pleading Guilty To DUI

The First 'Gone Girl' Trailer is Weird And Different To Other Trailers

“I did not kill my wife!” exclaims Ben Affleck in the first official trailer for David Fincher’s...

The First 'Gone Girl' Trailer is Weird And Different To Other Trailers


More recommendations