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Just fuggedaboud sporadically amusing ‘Crew’

Its gutter humor is a desperate attempt for laughs

SHARE Just fuggedaboud sporadically amusing ‘Crew’

THE CREW —* 1/2 — Richard Dreyfuss, Burt Reynolds, Seymour Cassel, Dan Hedaya, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jennifer Tilly, Lanie Kazan, Miguel Sandoval, Jeremy Piven; rated PG-13 (violence, profanity, vulgarity, nudity, ethnic slurs, sex); Carmike 12 and Ritz 15 Theaters; Century Theatres 16; Cinemark Jordan Landing Theaters; Gateway 8 Cinemas; Loews Cineplex Broadway Centre and Midvalley Cinemas; Megaplex 17 at Jordan Commons.

Did the makers of "The Crew" really think that by splicing a mobster farce (a la, "Analyze This") with the "Grumpy Old" comedies they might get something like "OldFellas?"

Well, in wise guys' terms, the answer can be summed up in one word: "Fuggedaboudit!"

A similar experiment may have worked for "Space Cowboys" ("Grumpy Old Men" and "The Right Stuff"), but that was thanks to the presence of charismatic stars like Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones, who outweighed the slightness of the material.

In this case, the cast isn't nearly as appealing, and there's more smarm than charm to this only sporadically amusing film, which contains a surprising amount of crude humor, ugly ethnic stereotyping and violence for a PG-13-rated genre comedy.

The title characters are four aging mobsters — Bobby Bartellemeo (Richard Dreyfuss), Joey "Bats" Pistella (Burt Reynolds), Tony "Mouth" Donato (Seymour Cassel) and Mike "The Brick" Donatelli (Dan Hedaya). They've retired and moved down to Miami Beach, where they're barely eking out an existence.

But once you're in "the business," it's hard to get out, as these four pals realize when management threatens to turn their beach-side apartments into expensive yuppie housing.

So they stage a gangland "slaying" in the lobby of the building (the "victim" is actually a corpse stolen from the morgue). To their surprise, the crackpot scheme works, and suddenly all their self-confidence is renewed.

That is, until they realize that the corpse they shot up was the father of drug lord Raul Ventana (Miguel Sandoval). Suddenly, they're more concerned with just staying alive, as well as steering clear of Olivia Neal (Carrie-Anne Moss, from "The Matrix"), a Miami detective who may be related to one of the "boys."

As embarrassing as the results are for the actors, the film is perhaps even more humiliating for director Michael Dinner, a multiple Emmy Award-winner for his work on TV's "The Wonder Years."

Not that Dinner doesn't invest the film with a certain amount of energy and feistiness, but all too often he's undermined by an awful script (by "Kingpin" scripter Barry Fanaro) that often stoops to cheap toilet humor and sexual gags in a desperate attempt for laughs.

Dinner also has to contend with an uninspired cast. If Dreyfuss and Reynolds seem cranky, it's not because they're getting into character, it's probably because they realize that this material is beneath them.

In fact, of the bunch, only Sandoval and veteran character actor Cassel seem to be having fun (most likely because they realize their reputations aren't on the line here).

"The Crew" is rated PG-13 for violence (gunplay and some tussles, the latter done for laughs), occasional strong profanity (including the so-called "R-rated" profanity, which is cut off), crude humor involving bodily functions, nudity (brief female and male, as well as copious bikini shots), use of ethnic slurs and simulated sex. Running time: 84 minutes.

E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com