The Crew
review by Gregory Avery, 1 September 2000

The Crew looks like a movie that started out its existence sickly and weak and then ended up having the life beaten out of it before the opening credits were even over, after which its remains are poked and prodded at with sticks for about ninety minutes in an effort to fool us into thinking that it was still alive. It doesn't work.

Richard Dreyfuss, Burt Reynolds, Dan Hedaya and a defeated-looking Seymour Cassel play one-time Mafia men who are now living out their retirement in the dull splendor of a residential hotel in Miami Beach. They decide to fake a gangland hit in the lobby of their building, using a John Doe corpse from the local morgue. The results not only bring them media attention and cause all the young yuppie whippersnappers to move out of the place and leave them in peace, but the corpse they used turns out to be that of an actual gang boss who had gone missing. In addition, a stripper (Jennifer Tilly) threatens to snitch on them unless the four men agree to rub out her stepmother (Lainie Kazan).

This last plot element is cause for the worst gag sequence to come along in a movie since Me, Myself and Irene -- it involves a rat with a length of burning rag tied to its tail, and while I'm not overly fond of rats, I do mind seeing helpless animals burned alive onscreen for our enjoyment. The picture also has the ugliest-looking cinematography of any Hollywood-made film in years. The colors look as if the footage had been dipped in India ink and then hung out to dry, but the filmmakers also decided to film all the medium and close shots using wide-angle lenses, which distort the actors' faces while emphasizing all of their worst qualities. Normally, the director's prerogative is to at least make the actors look presentable. Jennifer Tilly looks as if she has been blown-up to resemble a giant-sized version of Tura Satana, the maniacal vixen in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! It is not flattering.

While an attempt to parody the famous continuous tracking shot through a nightclub in Goodfellas is fumbled, Carrie-Anne Moss, playing a police detective, does get to let loose with one of her Matrix-style kickboxing moves (and from a sitting position, at that). On the other hand, Richard Dreyfuss dunks Burt Reynolds' head in a toilet bowlful of water, then resuscitates him mouth-to-mouth -- just when you thought the sequence with the unfortunate rat was as bad as things were going to get in this flick

This is probably not going to be of any help to the director Michael Dinner, who did some auspicious work in Heaven Help Us and, especially, Off Beat in the 1980s before becoming ensnared in Hot to Trot, which was taken away from him and destroyed by its studio. That film was like watching something being stretched on a rack; this one is simply mirthless.

Directed by:
Michael Dinner

Richard Dreyfuss
Burt Reynolds
Dan Hedaya
Seymour Cassel
Carrie-Anne Moss
Jennifer Tilly
Lainie Kazan
Jeremy Piven

Written by:
Barry Fanaro




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