Welcome to Collinwood
the kind of person who sees only faults. Without fail, I
note the flaws first. Show me a diamond, and I'll tell you
why it's not perfect.
My first impressions are always negative. Introduce me to
your new boy-friend, and I'll predict the break-up.
Artistic endeavors must earn my praise. My time is too valuable
to waste on mediocrity. As soon as I've listened to an album
or watched a movie, I am compelled to deconstruct it down
to its influences. It's my way of controlling the artist.
Actually, none of this is true. I'm quite easygoing, optimistic
and forgiving of most artistic efforts, even imperfect efforts,
when they are sincere. Especially when it comes to film.
That's why I can enjoy a movie like Welcome to Collinwood.
It isn't the best comedy to pass through Prague in recent
months, but it certainly isn't the worst.
Miserable cynics should avoid this movie. If, however, you're
willing let a well-intentioned comedy sweep you along, it's
worth seeing. Like an early Woody Allen film--before Allen
became a boring, miserable cynic--Collinwood has
enough laughs, interesting characters and inventive moments
to entertain you for an hour and a half, even if it won't
change your life.
Cosimo (Luis Guzmön) has been arrested for grand theft auto.
From his cellmate, he learns about a once-in-a-lifetime
heist, which in Collinwood lingo is called a "Bellini."
Apparently, before going to prison, the cellmate erected
a "Krazner" wall between a certain apartment and the neighboring
jewelry store. In the store's safe: enough money for a man
"to live several lifetimes." Cosimo simply needs to get
into that apartment, knock down the fake Krazner wall and
crack the safe.
But he obviously can't do the job while serving time, so
he asks his girlfriend, Rosalind (Patricia Clarkson), to
recruit a "Melinsky," someone who will confess to the crime
and take Cosimo's place. In the course of finding the Melinsky,
Rosalind inadvertently recruits a few would-be big-timers
to participate in the Bellini.
Pero is an amateur boxer who takes the lead in organizing
the heist; he also steals most of the scenes. Sam Rockwell
brings a goofball charm and bumbling bravado to the role.
He's a likeable character, and the perfect man to lead the
pack of small-timers who just want a fair shake at a better
William H. Macy's Riley is struggling to raise his infant
son while his wife serves a year in prison for fraud. If
he had $1,000, he could pay the fine that would set her
free. Leon (Isaiah Washington) would use his share of the
money to pay for his sister's wedding. Basil (Andrew Davoli)
is a young hustler who's ready to let a good woman turn
him into an honest man. Toto, the most down-and-out of the
crew (Michael Jeter), wants to buy a new tombstone for his
Though based on an Italian comedy from the late '50s, Collinwood
could just as easily be adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel.
(Incidentally, Woody Allen's Small Time Crooks borrowed
from the same film, I Soliti Ignoti.) It's a solid entry
into the Get Shorty genre, but beats Get Shorty
at its own game. That movie was too earnest in its effort
to not be taken seriously. Collinwood knows it's
a fun, daffy film. The characters are exaggerated but not
cloying. They're dopey, but not too stupid. Most importantly,
Collinwood knows that you know that jingly lingo
such as "Melinksy" and "Bellini" and "Krazner" were employed
to greater effect in Miller's Crossing.
That's why the cynics will piss and moan: the obvious influences,
the exaggerated characters, the unoriginal invented language
thing. They can stay home.
Don't expect uproarious laughs from Welcome to Collinwood,
but rather a sustained smile. This movie winks at you, and
if you're not the self-serious, overly analytical type,
maybe you'll wink back.