Friday, April 14, 2023

Mafia Mamma: Insert You Own Corny Mobster Cliché Here

Allegedly, this film is a mafia comedy, but as any successful gangster will tell you, allegations have to be proven. In this case, good luck with that. To be fair, you can certainly see it trying to be funny. Oh boy, can you ever. It is also probably supposed to be another half-baked story of “family,” when Kristin Balbano Jordan inherits two family businesses from the grandfather she never really knew. One is a terrible winery, but it doesn’t have to be very good, because it is really a front for the down-on-their-luck Balbano crime syndicate. Being a soon-to-be-divorced empty nester, she has the time to turn both around in Catherine Hardwicke’s Mafia Mamma, which opens today in theaters.

Jordan always put her son and husband first, but after the coddled little brat leaves for college, she catches her not-nearly-as-cool-as-he-thinks-he-is husband with another woman. It is the perfect time to claim her inheritance from her recently departed grandfather. As Bianca, the consigliere, explains, old man Balbano picked her to succeed him as the don, or whatever. Of course, that does not sit well with the presumed heir apparent. Frankly, he is welcomed to it, as far as Jordan is concerned. She just wants an Italian fling that will live up to her bestie’s “Eat, Pray, F***” mantra. Yes, the comedy of Michael J. Feldman & Debbie Jhoon’s screenplay is largely built around a cringy
Eat, Pray, Love reference. You’ve been warned.

Of course, through incredibly dumb slapstick, Jordan manages to foil the rival crime family’s assassination attempts. She even turns round the Balbano syndicate’s fortunes with a feel-good, totally ethical, if not 100% legal generic drug importation scheme, but then the stupid husband and son show up.

If any of this sounds remotely funny, you should still resist the temptation and watch
Married to the Mob, or just about any other mob comedy instead. Toni Collette is a great thesp, so it is painful to watch her labor to punch up this lame material. Only Monica Bellucci comes off with any style playing Bianca, the sultry mafia counselor with a titanium false leg, but only because she’s Monica Bellucci. Yes, this film traffics in prosthetic limb gags, because everyone knows amputees are hilarious. We haven’t even touched on Jordan’s bumbling Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum bodyguards, who make Laurel and Hardy look like Sir Ian McKellan and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

This film should have been whacked during the development stage, before it hurt anyone’s good taste. There is not one laugh or even a dry chuckle in the whole mess. Not recommended,
Mafia Mamma opens today (4/14) in New York theaters, including the AMC Lincoln Square.