Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rob the Mob

I saw Rob the Mob last week at the Landmark Embarcadero Center Cinemas.

Rob the Mob starring Michael Pitt & Nina Arianda; with Andy Garcia & Ray Romano; directed by Raymond De Felitta; (2014) - Official Website

Rob the Mob is based on the true story of Tommy and Rosemarie Uva, a Queens couple who robbed Mafia social clubs in the early 1990s.  That's a great hook - who is crazy enough to rob the Mob?  As portrayed in the film, Tommy (Michael Pitt) and Rosemarie (Nina Arianda) are more stupid and ignorant than crazy.  Set in the early 1990s, Tommy attends the trial of John Gotti.  He hears the testimony Sammy "The Bull" Gravano testify that guns are verboten at Mafia social clubs.  Tommy, previously convicted of armed robbery, gets the idea to rob the social clubs since they won't have guns.  As an added incentive, Tommy's father was killed by mobsters when he was a boy.

The predictable plot works its way to its conclusion with little to distinguish it.  Pitt & Arianda have some chemistry and are energetic enough but their dim-witted escapades never quite rise to the level of empathy.  In fact, the dialogue is stilted at times and the most common sentiment elicited from me was contempt for these two idiots.

Ray Romano plays a newspaper columnist who convinces the couple (dubbed Bonnie & Clyde) to give an interview.  Andy Garcia, with a bushy beard, plays the mob boss whose clubs are being robbed.  Garcia tries to show the quiet fury beneath the surface but once again, the dialogue fails the characters.

Burt Young &  Michael Rispoli have smaller roles as mobsters.  Cathy Moriarty has one scene as Tommy's embittered mother (best scene in the film).  Griffin Dunne has a few scenes as the owner of the debt collection agency where Tommy & Rosemarie work.

Rob the Mob is like a sport car not firing on all cylinders.  You know something is off, you're not quite sure what it is and you spend more time trying to figure out what is off than enjoying the ride. 

As I was watching Garcia trying to gain traction in his role, I was reminded of one of his films called City Island which I saw at the 2010 San Francisco Independent Film Festival.  Garcia was similarly hamstrung by mediocre dialogue and a plot which featured his prison guard character's embarrassment at trying to be an actor.  I was so lukewarm about the film that I didn't write anything about it in my postCity Island was far from horrible but not particularly memorable although I will admit that I am able to recall a surprisingly large part of the plot.  I don't doubt that I'll be able to write the same sentence for Rob the Mob in a few years. 

I have digressed - City Island and Rob the Mob were both directed by Raymond De Felitta which means it's probably not coincidence that I feel tepid about both films.

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