Loosely inspired by an ill-fated 1957 Mafia summit that took place in the sleepy upstate New York town of Apalachin, the tonally shifty “Mob Town — it talks like a comedy but moves like a drama — seldom lives up to its promising premise despite the performances of a keen ensemble.
Making up for lost time after an extended exile in Italy, mobster Vito Genovese (the reliable Robert Davi) wants to let everyone know who’s capo dei capi after ordering hits on rivals Frank Costello and Albert Anastasia.
He convenes a meeting of Cosa Nostra leaders at a secluded farm belonging to Joseph “Joe the Barber” Barbara (the film’s director, Danny Abeckaser), whose ambitious wife, Jo (Jamie-Lynn Sigler), embraces the gathering as a golden opportunity for her husband to move up the ranks.
Ultimately foiling those plans is intrepid New York State Police trooper Ed Croswell (David Arquette) who senses something’s up, especially when Barbara’s substantial catering budget means steak and seafood are suddenly in short supply at local restaurants.
Though the concept is meaty, the film won’t commit to the story it wishes to tell, with a budding romance between Arquette and a widowed mom (Jennifer Esposito) also thrown into the genre jumble.
In “Mob Town,” the cast’s definitely got the goods, but the writing and direction consistently fail to seal the deal.
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Playing: Starts Dec. 13, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica