out of 4
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Welcome To Collinwood
Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4
Do you remember "Big Deal on Madonna Street" (1958), detailing the
misadventures of inept thieves trying to pull off a burglary? In this droll,
caper-comedy remake, set in the working-class Collinwood section of Cleveland,
Cosimo (Luis Guzman), a petty crook, is caught stealing a car and sent to prison
where he meets a "lifer" who tells him of "the ultimate Bellini." That's an
easy, sure-fire get-rich-quick scheme, the perfect crime. It seems there's
access to a jeweler's safe through an empty apartment - and $300,000 waiting to
be stolen. So Cosimo turns to his steady (Patricia Clarkson) to get him out of
prison and, when that plan hits a snag, she rounds up a gang to pull the heist.
There's the bumbling boxer Pero (Sam Rockwell) with a well-connected girl-friend
(Jennifer Esposito), a single father (William H. Macy) who desperately needs to
bail his wife from jail, dapper Leon (Isiah Washington) who'd like to help his
sister (Gabrielle Union), an Italian gigolo (Andrew Davoli), and an old geezer
(Michael Jeter) after one last score. And since none of them has ever cracked a
safe, they seek instruction from an expert (George Clooney in an extended
cameo). Cleveland natives and co-writer/directors Joe and Anthony Russo concoct
this intriguing, character-driven caper comedy with the support of Steven
Soderberg, who caught their student film, "Pieces," at the Slamdance Film
Festival. Cleverly, the Russos detail each of these hapless, low-life losers
with affection and humor, coming up with wry lines like: "I hate to say it, but
this Bellini is starting to look like a real Kaputschnik." On the Granger Movie
Gauge of 1 to 10, "Welcome to Collinwood" is a sly, amusing 7, a laugh-filled
little gem. And if this appeals to you, rent Woody Allen's "Small Time Crooks"
or "Ocean's Eleven," two other heist comedies.
Copyright © 2002 Susan Granger
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