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Disorganized Crime

Kino // R // June 26, 2018
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ryan Keefer | posted June 29, 2018 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

Everyone has a guilty pleasure movie that's bad that they'll watch, right? I think mine is 1989's Disorganized Crime. I don't know why that's continued to stick around in my consciousness these days (a friend said he was impressed by such an ensemble of TV dads), but goddammit, I WILL continue to fight for its right to party, readily ignoring all others that come before or since!

Written and directed by Jim Kouf (Gang Related), the film is your basic heist comedy, more or less. Frank (Corbin Bernsen, Major League) is looking at a job in Montana, but he's a fugitive and finds himself caught by two New Jersey cops in Daniel Roebuck and a very young, beginning of Married with Children era Ed O'Neill. Frank knows the guys he wants and sends invites to them, and when they all meet in Montana and don't find Frank, they try to find out what he was doing there. So you have the young hotshot car guy Ray (Lou Diamond Phillips La Bamba), trigger man Carlos (Ruben Blades, The Return of Ruben Blades), the troublemaking safe guy Nick (William Russ, Boy Meets World) and the older explosives expert Max (Fred Gwynne, My Cousin Vinny) trying to get along while trying to find Frank and pull off the heist. Simple, right?

So I will admit the premise behind Disorganized Crime is a touch derivative. The laughs maybe aren't as funny as you, a newcomer, will want. I've never had to flush out any articulate reasoning for liking the film disproportionately before, but I think what makes it so appealing for me is that I've rarely seen a cast throw themselves into something and make it their own and have it not fail, but just…miss. We all know Gwynne from his drawl in Vinny and as the matriarch of The Munsters, and he has a moment or two that plays to laughs, but he's a grizzled veteran of dozens of bank jobs, and it's convincing. It came out around the same time in theaters that Pet Sematary did, and it's a similar role, but this is more authentic, almost from a noir film, and it feels genuine. Russ' performance as a guy who's been through this stuff before and can do it when called upon, despite predilictions for self-destruction and self-preservation? Just as notable. Phillips' work, just after his breakout, is young and capable. Blades' role for me has had the most charisma and comedy to it; guy who is not afraid to use his gun, but in a cold-blooded manner. In Montana? Gun only comes out against others in the group, he spends more time yelling, be it frustration, anger, whatever, and it's funny. The more comic roles for Roebuck and O'Neill? Delivered well too, to the point where you begin to feel sorry for them as they undergo the chase. Paired with the local sheriff (played by Hoyt Axton), the trio are adequate foils to the robbers.

The excellent work of the cast does elevate the material, but only so far, things start to get a little clunky and convoluted in the second and third acts (during the tentpole robbery, there's even an appearance by Dean Norris, Hank of Breaking Bad fame, with actual hair!), and things that are designed to make your knuckles white, just don't give you that feeling. The big heist is diminished by the things that go on after that, which with repeated viewings of the film I've grown to understand, but let's face it, I'm a crazy person. I'm extolling the virtues of a film with Herman Munster, Al Bundy, Arnie Becker and the Gremlins Dad, so how normal can I POSSIBLY be, right?

I will readily admit that Disorganized Crime is not the Breathless of our or any other time. But there is an element of dismissal that overshadows a number of very good, against type performances that have more nuance and range than you'd expect. I will be here banging this drum on the inevitable 4K and digital versions, because there will be some.

Oh yes, there will be some.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

So I wasn't sure what to expect with Kino's release of the film, but I know the Blu-ray of Disorganized Crime is a touch disappointment. Colors look fine and reproduced accurately, film grain is present and abundant through most of the film, but there are moments of smoothing and what appear to be frame rate issues that distracted from moments were cars were driving or actors moving in slow motion. I checked the settings of my equipment and everything looked fine, I'm guessing there was image stuff done after the film's release to video and eventually DVD and Blu-ray that appears here, and it's a bummer.

The Sound:

The film doesn't get a lot to do with its DTS-HD two-channel audio. Guns being loaded represent directional effects well, and the car chases sound clear with a hint of lateral panning. Mostly, the dialogue sounds clean and without complaint.

The Extras:

Jim and his wife, producer Lynn, do a commentary where they discuss original casting ideas (Edward James Olmos in the Bernsen role?) before tackling the production challenges of the sets and weather in Montana, and the perks of shooting it where they did. They talk about how Phillips did more of his own stunts than anyone expected and cover some of the style choices for the film, and the birth of their daughter during production is touched upon too. It's a quaint complement to the film. Roebuck does an interview (15:27) where he talks about how he got the role and cracks jokes during the interview, and shares stories on set and his thoughts about the film. A trailer (1:57) with some footage that sets up the robbers' backstories which I hadn't seen before, completes things.

Final Thoughts:

I'm not sure how many times I've seen Disorganized Crime at this point. Not that I'm doing it on some karmic quest, but I will stop for a second and check it out when it's on TV, and the Kino Blu-ray gives me a chance to set aside time to do so, and it still proves to be better than people expected. Technically it has a lot to be desired but the extras were a surprise. Definitely worth checking out.

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