Download Mafia! / The Crew (Double Feature)
Mafia! / The Crew(1998-2000)
Mafia! / The Crew Blu-ray features mediocre video and audio, but overall it's a poor Blu-ray release
No synopsis for Mafia! / The Crew.
For more about Mafia! / The Crew and the Mafia! / The Crew Blu-ray release, see Mafia! / The Crew Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 25, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Directors: Michael Dinner, Jim Abrahams
This Blu-ray bundle includes the following titles, see individual titles for specs and details:
Mafia! / The Crew Blu-ray Review
Two mob comedies, one ridiculously low price.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 25, 2013
Jim Abrahams is one of the modern masters of the Parody genre and the accompanying Comedy landscape. His films -- on which he works in any number of capacities -- have delighted audiences for decades and hold up well years after release for a myriad of reasons, chief amongst them their inherent sense of humor that never goes out of style as well as their service as offbeat companions of sorts to the classic, time-tested, long-lasting films they spoof. Films like Airplane!, Hot Shots!, and The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! show that the least serious side of the filmmaking business can be big fun and well-received cinema both; more modern spoof artists should take note. But not everything Abrahams ever touched turned to comedy gold. Mafia! is a perfect example of a great idea that didn't quite hit the mark like those other films. It's a noble effort that falls short of greatness but that should nevertheless please Mafia movie aficionados looking for something a little lighter than that genre generally has to offer.
Tony Cortino (Jay Mohr) runs the mighty Peppermill Casino. He's rolling in the dough he so easily separates from his guests -- and even those who never step foot in his establishment -- and living the high life in Las Vegas. He's also a top figure in the mafia. As his story unfolds, so too does that of Vincenzo Cortino (Lloyd Bridges), an Italian immigrant and head of a powerful crime family. Vincenzo escaped Italy as a young boy after an altercation left a drug runner without a key shipment and, worse, without a thumb. In America, Vincenzo makes it big but decades later is shot some 74 times at his son Joey's (Billy Burke) wedding celebration. When Tony -- recently returned home from the Korean Conflict with fiancé Diane (Christina Applegate) in tow -- vows to kill the man who attempted to murder his father, Diane leaves him and the life of crime behind. Tony's hit leads him to big things -- including the casino business -- but also opens up new dangers in the process.
Mafia! hits hard in its opening act with a barrage of "funny" that really pulls the audience into the film. The opening casino sequence is a collection of all things hilariously brainstormed to turn a house of gambling into a playground of the ridiculous where family board games and rigged slot machines absurdly demonstrate the futility of gambling. Of course, Abrahams takes it a step or two further with a gut-busting scene in which the "smarter" people just mail in envelopes full of cash, foregoing the time of travel and the process of actually participating in the gambling and just cutting ties with their money the easy way. The film never finds quite so much steam as it expends in its opening minutes, but not for lack of effort; there are some moments to treasure throughout the film ("run, florist, run!," Chucky killing off a character) but only few are those moments when the picture sometimes struggles to elicit laughs. Mafia! goes gleefully over the top in its efforts with the aid of slapstick, music, and just rearranging bits and pieces to be slightly off for heavy comedic effect. That seems to be the real secret here, of finding the right balance between "extreme" and "slightly off." The film often finds that middle ground to good effect; it's not as consistent as Abrahams' other films, but it's a solid ride nevertheless.
Additionally, the cast is quite adept at playing things straight and handling the material with a sincerity that only accentuates the humor. It's a trademark of these sorts of films but only as effective as the actors make it. While there's no Leslie Nielsen, Charlie Sheen, or Robert Hays to sell the concept and the story, Mafia!'s cast proves at least adequate in delivering its lines and playing for the camera with suitable proficiency. Jay Mohr does the deadpan thing quite well, taking on his role with a subtle absurdity but overlying seriousness that befits the style, the character, and the films Mafia! spoofs. Likewise, veteran Lloyd Bridges handles the material like an old champ, soaking it up and letting it all back out tenfold, turning some potentially "miss" jokes and physical gags into substantially better ones. Of course, Mafia!'s failure rate is a bit higher than other Abrahams films. The script feels a little too forced at times, particularly in those moments when the material just doesn't lend itself to humor and the scriptwriters pull at straws to keep the laugh ratio where it is during the rest of the movie. Can't win 'em all, but more often than not Mafia! makes for a delightful little venture; just don't expect Airplane!-quality filmmaking.
For guys purported to be "wise," so-called "wise guys" sure do seem to regularly find themselves on the precipice of trouble. They operate outside the law, have no qualms about sending their enemies to sleep with the fishes, and they excel in finding oftentimes violent or otherwise undesirable solutions to their problems. Maybe their street smarts are enough to get them through the day, a week, several months, maybe even the primes of their lives, but what happens when they simply outgrow the skill level necessary to maintain a criminal operation? Or what if they decide to just leave it all behind and retire someplace peaceful, sunny, warm, and away from the mayhem on the streets? Well, for some, the old ways never really disappear, they just settle onto the low-heat back burner where they simmer until needed again. Such is the story in The Crew, a generally delightful, albeit rather predictable, little picture from Director Michael Dinner (TV's Justified) and Writer Barry Fanaro (Men in Black II) that tells the tale of four retired "wise guys" who must get back to their old habits for one last round of mayhem if they really want to leave their old lives behind once and for all.
New Jersey, 1968. Four friends found themselves living the dream of serving together in their own "crew," their personal mafia outfit in which they had free reign to do as they pleased, harass those who stood in their way, and live their lives in style like only mobsters can. It was a lucrative life, not always a good life, but they were more than friends -- they were family -- and that togetherness kept the crew intact and business good. But time wears on as it does for all men, "wise guys" or otherwise. Now, decades after their peak, they find themselves retired in Miami on what used to be a quiet retirement hotspot. Not so anymore. Their area has been overrun by younger folks, louder folks, all sorts of folks who are as dissimilar from them as humanely possible. They tolerate the newcomers, and the newcomers they, but when their landlord decides to kick them to the curb so they can rent their ocean view apartment to more affluent clientele, the foursome finds it has no choice but to turn to its old ways and fight back like only "wise guys" can.
Bobby (Richard Dreyfuss, Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Tony (Seymour Cassel, Rushmore), Mike (Dan Hedaya, Clueless), and Joey (Burt Reynolds, Deliverance) come up with what seems to be an ingenious plan. Mike just so happens to work in a mortuary. They take one of the bodies of the recently departed, lay it on the lobby floor of their building, and blast it with a shotgun, giving the image of a nasty mafia hit right in the middle of yuppie central. It doesn't take long for the story to make the news, panic to spread, and the building to empty of tenants. Now, not only can the crew live in peace, the men are paid to stay on by management in wake of the killing and the flood of departures from the premises. Unfortunately for the crew, the case draws the attention of local law enforcement officers Neal (Carrie-Anne Moss, The Matrix) and Menteer (Jeremy Piven, Entourage). The crew's problems are compounded when it turns out the body belongs to none other than the father of a local drug runner named Raul (Miguel Sandoval, Repo Man). It would seem that the crew has bitten off more than it can chew on this, its last mission together, but these are old pros with a few more tricks up their sleeve. Will their background and skill set be enough to overcome a modern menace and the local law?
The Crew won't go down as a modern classic, but it's an enjoyable little slice of escapism done well enough on every level. It's well made and entertaining but never really moving even when it tries to be with a father-daughter story that feels more tacked-on and tacky than it does vital to the story. Still, the film finds solid footing and runs with its gag as well as can be expected. It's not Space Cowboys, but it does a fine enough job of showing the brighter side of age advancement, even if it's in a rather dark and dishonest context. The cast is excellent, again not on par with the best of the "older actor" ensemble films but holding its own with two powerhouses in Dreyfuss and Reynolds up front and a pair of strong supporting leads in Cassel and Hedaya. There's only a fair sense of camaraderie -- the cast never gels as well as the script would suggest the characters have -- but each actor brings charm to their respective parts and solidifies the film as a worthwhile little venture that's perfect for a lazy afternoon of movie watching.
Mafia! / The Crew Blu-ray, Video Quality
Mafia!'s high definition presentation, courtesy of Mill Creek, doesn't sleep with the fishes, but it's not exactly alive and kicking, either. This is a rather pedestrian Blu-ray transfer that offers solidly unremarkable details and colors. It's sometimes soft and a bit fuzzy, but at other junctures -- the extended wedding celebration, for example -- it offers some rather nice details, good clarity, sharp images, and nearly vibrant colors. Generally, then, details prove rather middling, basically sufficient for a high definition picture but hardly breathtaking. Ditto colors. There's some very light dirt here and there, pale blacks, inconsistent flesh tones, and a grain field that disappears and spikes. Noise can be substantial in some scenes. It's a watchable image but not one Blu-ray fans will turn to to dazzle their friends.
The Crew's budget Blu-ray release does the film no visual favors. Mill Creek's high definition transfer is a bland, lifeless thing, not unwatchable by any means but certainly not the sort of brilliant, film-like image enjoyed by upper-tier and even higher mid-level Blu-ray discs. The transfer offers serviceable details at the increased Blu-ray resolution, but the picture certainly lacks an organic life to it. Grain seems wiped away, leaving behind a flat, pasty sort of image. Colors, likewise, lack brilliance and pinpoint accuracy. There's little range around the more subtle shades, leaving the film wanting for a more even palette. There's some very light scattered dirt and wear, but nothing that would warrant more than a mention. Some edge enhancement appears throughout, but not often very heavily. Banding and blocking are minimal. This is a watchable image, suitable given the rock-bottom pricing, but videophiles should probably stay away or prepare themselves ahead of time before diving in.
Mafia! / The Crew Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Mafia! features a minimalist sort of soundtrack. Mill Creek's sound presentation is the definition of "passable;" the film by its nature offers nothing of note beyond the basics, and the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless track strives to only deliver the basics with little attention to finer details. Dialogue is this presentation's primary element. It's serviceable, clear, and unimpeded by other elements. It remains centered in the front and the backbone of the track for the duration. Other pieces of the sonic puzzle play with little energy or clarity; the track has a certain blandness about it, a decided lack of effort to push itself further than the delivery of simple musical and supportive elements that exist beyond what's needed to get the point across. Music spacing is fine across the front, and basic sound effects take basic sonic shape. That's all the movie really needs, but listeners will rightly want something more.
The Crew features a bland but generally effective, on a base level, DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 lossless soundtrack. Mill Creek's sound presentation does just enough to get listeners through the film without any inconvenience. Dialogue is delivered firmly and with the sort of clarity, ease of delivery, and focus a basic listen demands. Still, the rest of the track plays disappointingly flat. Fair front-end spacing gives a slight sense of space, but sound effects struggle for even a hint of immersion and, oftentimes, raw clarity. An early rainstorm sounds more like a glob of sound more so than a natural element. An explosion, also early in the film, lacks punch, and a strip club scene later on fails to find much energy. All in all, it's a disappointing affair, but once again considering the bargain pricing it's hard to complain too much.
Mafia! / The Crew Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
This is a decent two-pack that offers two gently entertaining movies, not hallmarks of the Comedy genre but certainly watchable little films that will satisfy the urge for a fair experience over ninety minute runtimes. Mill Creek's double Blu-ray release contains no extra features. Both films offer lackluster video and audio. Even though the presentations aren't up to snuff, fans of either or both films should purchase given the ridiculously low selling price.
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Mafia! / The Crew Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Mill Creek Double Feature Listings - October 3, 2012
Beginning next week, Mill Creek Entertainment will be releasing 12 double feature Blu-rays. The films range in variety from Father Hood to Mafia!. If any special features will be included, they have not yet been announced. The first wave of double feature Blu-rays ...