Rob the Mob is a tragicomic take on two of the dumbest real-life stick-up artists in American history, the sort of dopes you might see loudly caricatured in a five-minute segment on Spike TV.
Director Raymond De Felitta and writer Jonathan Fernandez attempt to flesh out this microscopic blip of mafia history, and they half-succeed, mostly due to their spot-on feel for early ’90s-era New York City (subway cars scrawled with graffiti, crack pipe use in broad daylight) and the nicely subdued performances from Andy Garcia (as a retiring don) and Ray Romano (as an oddly principled Daily News reporter).
What they fail at is generating pathos. While De Felitta and Fernandez don’t condescend to their central couple, snidely dubbed “Bonnie and Clyde” by the press, they also don’t delve all that thoroughly into the traumatic, violent Queens upbringing that caused Thomas (Michael Pitt) and Rosemarie (Nina Arianda) Uva’s trigger-happy sociopathy.
What we learn is that Thomas’s father was either bumped off or provoked into suicide by the mafia; that the vengeful Thomas has since become his family’s black sheep, choosing petty robbery over a legit flower shop business; and that, sprung from jail in early 1992 in the wake of the Gambino family’s indictments, he decides to get even by robbing a string of “social” mafia clubs.
The stickups, while plenty funny — an Uzi firing uncontrollably can still be hilarious — lack any sense of dread or danger. And while De Felitta has a knack for slaphappy eroticism — with the feisty Arianda on board, the sex scenes have genuine heat — he also resorts too often to sappy lyricism. The closing shot of the Uvas’ execution, on Christmas Eve, no less, is an empty groaner.