To topple the frightening and powerful, the first step is to make them look foolish.
That’s the object lesson in “Rob the Mob,” a tragi-comic tale of a couple of idiots who figured New York’s “five families” were just “greasy old guys cruising on their reputations.” So this naive and clumsy “Bonnie & Clod” proceed to rob the wiseguys, making them strip to their underwear as they do.
And since this “true story” happened in the middle of the high-profile trial of “The Teflon Don,” John Gotti, what can the mob do about it?
The feds were watching and listening in. The press (Ray Romano plays a newspaper columnist) was amused, and that amusement spread as the world came to realize these pot-bellied thugs weren’t so scary and weren’t coated in Teflon after all.
Michael Pitt (“Seven Psychopaths”) is Tommy, a crackhead who can’t even get away with robbing a florist’s shop on Valentine’s Day. Nina Arianda (of “Tower Heist”) is Rosie, the ditz who loves Tommy so much she drives the getaway car her dad left to her when he died.
'Rob the Mob'
DIRECTED BY: Raymond De Felitta
STARRING: Michael Pitt, Nina Arianda, Andy Garcia, Ray Romano, Frank Whaley and Burt Young
RATED: R GRADE: B
RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes
After Tommy does his time for that crime, Rosie dreams of them going straight — staying off drugs, working at real jobs. She’s already a star at the collection agency where she works. Tommy can join her, right?
“Everyone deserves a second chance,” her boss (Griffin Dunne, a hoot) croons. But Tommy is instantly bored, given to advising clients on sneaky ways to avoid paying their bills a little while longer. It worked for him.
What truly fascinates Tommy is the Gotti trial, with its riveting inside testimony of guys like Sammy “The Bull” Gravano. Where others are hooked on the crimes, the violence and the slang, Tommy — who plays hooky, sitting in court, doodling — is noticing important things. Such as that the Mafia has all these “social clubs,” where the made men gather and play cards and make deals and count their loot. And these clubs? No guns allowed.
“Wise guys and guns,” Gravano (Garry Pastore) testifies, “it’s a bad mix.”
Tommy, reasoning that the last guys to call the cops would be mobsters, figures he’s got the perfect crime. And Rosie, whose reasoning is as short-sighted and stupid as Tommy’s, comes along for the ride.
The FBI (Frank Whaley) is listening in, incredulously, as Tommy pulls off these inept, Uzi-fired heists. The newspaper columnist (Romano) gets wind of an amusing side show to the Gotti trial.
And a culinarily inclined mob boss, Big Al (Andy Garcia), and his lieutenant (Michael Rispoli) cannot believe these brazen insults to their mafioso manhood.
It’s all good fun, with Tommy waving a gun around and yelling, “You, goombah — grab that spaghetti bowl. ALL the cash, inside!” But you just know somebody’s going to get hurt.
The robberies are — to a one — hilarious. The aftermaths, less so.
“City Island” director Raymond De Felitta packs the screen with veteran character actors and turns them loose on this Jonathan Fernandez script. Garcia broods, and cooks, Dunne vamps and kvetches, Whaley and Romano play it straight but with a twist.
And Pitt and Arianda utterly inhabit these dolts and their delusional dreams. They’re careless and clumsy, never thinking things through, never seriously considering the inevitable consequences of what happens when you poke the bull.
And they poke. And poke. And humiliate. And tease.
And we grimace in anticipation. Because we know what Rosie and Tommy can’t seem to grasp, that sooner or later, those fat “greasy old guys cruising on their reputations” are going to poke back.