Welcome To Collinwood

on October 04, 2002 by Kevin Courrier
The ad line for "Welcome to Collinwood" reads: "Five guys. One safe. No brains." That pretty much sums up the picture. "Welcome to Collinwood" is a lame attempt to remake the 1958 caper comedy "The Big Deal on Madonna Street." But where "Big Deal" was a genial, subtly played story about a group of petty thieves botching a robbery, "Welcome to Collinwood" is a loud and broadly overplayed mess--like "The Big Deal on Madonna Street" as directed by the Three Stooges.

Instead of Italy, the movie is set in Cleveland. Prison inmate Cosimo (Luis Guzman) encounters, through his cellmate, a map to the perfect heist, known in Cleveland parlance as a "Bellini." He then asks his girlfriend, Rosalind (Patricia Clarkson), to find a patsy, known in Cleveland parlance as a "Mullinski," to serve his time so he can carry out the robbery. Unfortunately, word gets out and within hours five desperate hoodlums are on her doorstep looking for a piece of the action.

"Welcome to Collinwood" is nothing more than a slapstick patchwork of vignettes that grow more tiresome as the movie progresses. Single dad Riley (William H. Macy), whose wife is serving time, is initially funny carting the kid around while desperately hunting out a baby sitter. But the rest of the cast, including the talented Isaiah Washington and Michael Jeter, is completely wasted. In particular, Jeter is reduced to getting laughs by having his pants hanging down. Luis Guzman, one of the best character actors around, is barely around enough to even be a character, while Sam Rockwell chews up enough scenery to make a beaver weep with envy.

"Welcome to Collinwood" fails because it plays to the numbskull antics of the characters rather than focusing on how their petty dreams fulfil them. Alan Taylor's little-seen "Palookaville" (1996) is a far superior remake of "The Big Deal on Madonna Street." "Welcome to Collinwood" has too many "Mullinskis" and not enough "Bellinis." Starring William H. Macy, Patricia Clarkson, Luis Guzman, Jennifer Esposito, George Clooney, Sam Rockwell, Isiah Washington and Michael Jeter. Directed and written by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Produced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh. A Warner Bros. release. Comedy. Rated R for language. Running time: 86 min

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