Rob the Mob
Director: Raymond De Felitta
Screenplay: Jonathan Fernandez
Cast: Michael Pitt, Nina Arianda, Andy Garcia, Michael Rispoli, Samira Wiley, Ray Romano, Frank Whaley, Cathy Moriarty, Griffin Dunne
Screened at: Review 1, NYC, 3/6/14
Opens: March 21, 2014
“Rob the Mob,” which is based on an actual adventure by two naïve lovers who raided and ripped off money and jewelry from mafia “social clubs,” is all the more amazing for being true. In the hands of director Raymond De Felitta, whose “City Island” is a delightfully funny tale of a dad whose poker nights are really spent going to an acting class, the tale reaches proportions that can be compared to the classic film “Bonnie and Clyde” with some aspects that could remind some of “American Hustle.” The film includes a passionate romance of a couple that can make you believe the scene involving sex in a tiny phone booth, a rehash of the 1991 arrest of mafia chieftain John Gotti, and a family drama about a young man who makes too few visits to his mother and kid brother to impress them even though he offers them an envelope filled with more cash than they could make in five years. The story is filled with some fine actors, especially Michael Pitt, who starred in the extraordinary crime story “Funny Games,” and Andy Garcia, who can make you believe that his character really is “Big Al,” a mafia boss who rose from selling Italian rice balls on a cart to opening a popular Italian restaurant in New York.
Tommy (Michael Pitt) and Rosie (Nina Arianda) are fed up with living small, so when Tommy completes a short prison term after robbing a florist on Valentine’s Day, he is persuaded by Rosie to join her in going straight by working at a debt-collection agency under the authority of a generous and funny boss Dave Lovell (Griffin Dunne). Dave is the kind of fellow who hires only ex-cons, believing that everyone deserves a second chance, but Tommy soon despairs of making an honest living. He persuades Rosie to drive a getaway car each time he does the unthinkable: he invades the turf of several mafia clubs with an Uzi he knows not how to use (a funny scene finds him shooting wildly into the air to get the mobsters’ attention), and Rosie is so involved with her cigarette that she is unable to open the car door for her thieving boyfriend.
Jonathan Fernandez’s sometimes hilarious screenplay weaves among the robberies, Tommy’s visits to his mother, a cooking class taught by head mobster Big Al (Andy Garcia) to his impressed grandson, and quite a few romantic clutches between Tommy and Rosie. In one robbery, Tommy orders mobsters to strip to their underwear, sending them out to the street only to be photographed by an FBI surveillance team which turns information over to ace reporter Jerry Cardozo (Ray Romano).
As though the passion and naïvete of Tommy and Rosie are not entertaining enough, De Felitta hones in on conversations among various mafia lieutenants and captains, particularly on Sal (Michael Rispoli) and Vinny Gorgeous (Yul Vazquez). Striking black-and-white cinematic effects throw us briefly back to actual events that occurred during 1991-2. This version of the tale shows us how a reporter gets information to write scoops (Jerry relies on an FBI surveillance man and, incredibly enough, the two robbers). All add up to a rollicking crime story filled with humor, pathos, and stupidity, a fitting tale that, in effect, picks up after last year’s “American Hustle.”
Rated R. 104 minutes. © 2014 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – A
Acting – A-
Technical – A-
Overall – A-