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Wizened Guys

By now, even Scorsese might have difficulty mining fresh absurdist material out of a premise that confronts mobsters with the quotidian. Nonetheless, we have The Crew, a film as generic as its title, about four grumpy old retired gangsters getting their grooves back. Threatened by gentrification in South Beach, Miami, they conspire to keep rents down by faking a mob hit in their apartment building. Their return to a life of crime begins as a stunt but quickly goes awry, leaving them pursued by both cops and robbers. None of the details make much sense, but The Crew glibly coasts on the assumption that we won't notice or care.

Leading the grade-B Space Cowboys cast, Richard Dreyfuss, as the one character not intended as a caricature, is the pivot for the requisite maudlin subplot, in which he's looking for his long-lost daughter (Carrie-Ann Moss), who just happens to be the detective on their tracks. Moss is as grimly affectless as she was in The Matrix, but here it feels more motivated by the material than the character. The other crew members are each summed up by a tic and known by corresponding nicknames, lest we forget who's who and why we're meant to be laughing. For example, Dan Hedaya's character is called "Brick" because he's stupid.

In other words, the humor is even more geriatric than the cast. The day-to-day tedium of the men's lives is meant to contrast with the carefree bravado that we expect from mobsters and they expect from themselves. But whatever life might be eked out of this setup is forfeited by cartoonish treatment. If (and it's a big if) there's a laugh in the awakening of Seymour Cassel's long-dormant libido after a kiss from a beach bunny, it's not to be found, as director Michael Dinner gambles, in the interior of Cassel's mouth. Though typical, The Crew stays clear of topical (i.e., no wince-inducing Viagra jokes), but really, could that have hurt? Perhaps the hope is audiences have the same lackluster attitude toward comedy that we're told senior citizens have toward life; we just want the comfort of the familiar.

 
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