Irresistible, and based on a real-life story that's still hard to believe, "Rob the Mob" stars Michael Pitt and Nina Arianda as a Queens couple who ask themselves a creative question about crime -- why not rob the criminals? Whom are they going to complain to? As Tommy and Rosie, Pitt and Arianda are just the right kind of nuts, the right kind of dumb, the right kind of desperate and the right kind of in love to make it all go down like pie.
The film's director, Raymond De Felitta, makes the kind of movies that only small groups of people really love, usually because only small groups of people get to see them. "City Island" (2009), about a Bronx cop who wants to be an actor, has taken on cult status; anyone who's seen "Two-Family House" (2000), about an unlikely couple in Staten Island, is unlikely to forget it. With "Rob the Mob" and its script by Jonathan Fernandez, he's altered his style a bit. The pace is faster, the humor more biting, the story more off-the-wall, and the camerawork more frenetic. But at the core is a love story, with more than a little sense of bad news around its edges.
Arianda has seemed poised for a breakout; this could do the trick. As Rosie, she's smart enough to have made an impression on Dave (Griffin Dunne), the wacky, philanthropic owner of a collection agency that hires ex-offenders, which is how Tommy gets hired, too. But Tommy is a screwup, and he wants fast money, and Rosie is too much in love to say no. And besides, is it really a crime to hold up a social club? And so what if Tommy makes the members undress, and they get their picture in a city tabloid, courtesy of the feds and reporter Jerry Cardozo (Ray Romano)?
Will mob boss Andy Garcia get upset? What can possibly happen? Plenty, actually, but en route to reality there's a sense of reckless adventure, and a sweetness, that makes "Rob the Mob" a joy.
PLOT Two crazy kids from Queens make ends meet by holding up Gambino family social clubs.
CAST Michael Pitt, Nina Arianda, Andy Garcia, Michael Rispoli, Ray Romano
BOTTOM LINE Smart, giddy crime comedy, with just a dash of bittersweet.