'Rob the Mob': Bad plan, good movie

Posted: April 04, 2014

"ROB the Mob" is an intriguing little indie about a New York "Bonnie and Clyde" who had an understandably brief career knocking down mafia social clubs, circa 1992.

Theirs was a very bad business plan, but in "Rob the Mob" it acquires a certain appeal - their victims are so deserving, their demeanor so pleasant, their methods so amateurish, that the doomed enterprise (in the hands of "City Lights" director Raymond De Felitta) takes on an agreeably quixotic tone.

Tommy (Michael Pitt) is a kid from the Bronx with a grudge against the mob that dates back to the beatings he saw his florist father take from the local loan sharks.

Grown-up Tommy isn't cut out for business - he tries a stint at a telephone collection agency (for Griffin Dunne), but ends up commiserating with the hard-luck debtors on the other end of the line.

He and his girlfriend, Rosie (Nina Arianda, terrific), are more interested in the ongoing trial of mob boss John Gotti. Tommy attends the trial, and takes notes. When informers mention the names and locations of mob-owned business, Tommy writes down the addresses, then robs them. Rosie drives the getaway car.

They are not terribly competent. Tommy can't control his Uzi, she can't get the car door to open and they seem to have no clear idea what do with the ill-got gains from the mob's ill-got gains.

It's a refreshing change, in a way, from the angle-playing sharpies of "American Hustle" or the celebrated misanthropes of "Wolf of Wall Street." Tommy and Rosie haven't any plan at all other than having fun, or punking the mob, or reading of their exploits in the paper - Ray Romano is the tabloid reporter who befriends them, and makes them briefly and dangerously famous.

He knows how deadly their game is, tries to persuade them to get out of town, but it's too late when one of their robberies leaves them in possession of information of interest to the FBI, doubly of interest to organized crime.

And, in any case, they aren't too keen to leave. Their universe ends at the border of the outer boroughs, and they seem serenely ready to take what comes, in a way that makes them hard to write off as merely foolish. You're also pulled in by Arianda's winning performance, which gives you an idea why she won a Tony in 2012.

The movie is full of quirky, usually worthwhile digressions (Andy Garcia has an expansive part as a mob boss) that add to its offbeat tone, further abetted by interesting musical choices and a very nice score by Stephan Endelman.


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