Welcome to Collinwood is yet another Hollywood remake. Based on the Italian comedy I soliti ignoti, the film is more carbon copy than recycled remake. However, the original Italian was itself a parody of another film and Collinwood serves as one of the American successions, the shift in time and location offering up a new breed of losers.
The story starts with local lowlife Cosimo, who is arrested after his botched attempt to steal a car. In jail, he learns about the perfect score from his cellmate, a life-timer. The perfect score or, as they refer to it in the film, a Bellini, involves a jewellery store, a safe and an empty apartment. In order to get out of jail to pursue his Bellini, Cosimo pays a first-time crook to take the rap for his crime. Pero, the fall-guy, double crosses him and goes after the Bellini himself, with a rag-tag bunch of misfits in tow.
Some of the characters are stereotypes, but with a madcap plot in place the actors pull it off. No two characters are alike and no one is redundant. A diverse cast is assembled with George Clooney impressing as a grouchy, wheelchair-bound safe-cracker; William H. Macy shining as a hapless father and Michael Jeter providing a lot of the laughs as bumbling, old Toto.
The film starts well with its offbeat humour in place, and then halts awkwardly as it trundles along to get to the point. The characters are constantly thwarted in their mission and while it may be a comedy trademark, it becomes frustrating in Collinwood, further aggravated by one too many romantic trysts. It only really picks up its pace and tone again once the characters are finally on their way to pull off their Bellini.
The definitive moment of the film is the heist itself. The sheer idiocy of the characters is a glorious orchestration of ineptitude. It generates the most laughs with its physical comedy and smack-palm-to-forehead exasperation. It may not be the Bellini of comedies or heist movies, but it stays true to its characters and is a respectful nod to its genre and its source.