The Moya View

Mafia Mamma: A Half Horse Head Mafia Comedy

Bleecker Street

Movie info via IMDB:

An American mom inherits her grandfather’s mafia empire in Italy. Guided by the firm’s consigliere, she hilariously defies everyone’s expectations as the new head of the family business.


Review:

Bleecker Street

Mafia Mamma, a comedy about a suburban American housewife (Toni Collette) who becomes the leader of an Italian crime family through inheritance, does a decent job of mocking the silent conventions of Mafiosos, while managing a slight revision to the gangster drama.

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Mafia Mamma is at its funniest when it engages in background parodies of cinematic Mafia body language cliches and behaviors. There is the simultaneous crossing of heads, hearts and stomachs whenever a deceased Don’s name is mentioned; clumsy corpse cut up jobs done in bathtubs, shadowy body guards who are never shadowy enough and who bicker like Laurel and Hardy or The Three Stooges. Since the cast is mostly Italian born and bred, and the film was filmed in Italy, the timing is impeccably Ciao, a quality that can get easily lost on American film critics and the audience not raised on The Godfather films as their cinema cultural foundation stone. Adding Monica Bellucci as a consigliere and guide-straigtwoman helps to get the uninitiated up to speed.

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The main comic thrust revolves around Collette’s attempt to make this crime family business into a more moral and legal American corporate template. The front businesses become the main business, subject to focus groups and heavy branding and advertising. The illegal stuff gets offloaded to the other Dons for a profit percentage. It doesn’t quite mesh plot and theme wise, thus throwing off the tone. The point that the American Corporate model is just as immoral , though not as flagrantly illegal as the Mafia one, is a grindingly boring one when put in action. The smarter choice would be to make this Italian family more American- Soprano than Corleone.

Bleecker Street

The director, Catherine Hardwicke never really gets the conflicting tones under control, and Mafia Mamma is a wobbly child for the most part. Collette does however, understand how to blend the inconsistencies of her written character into a recognizably and sympathetic screen one. She pastiches naïve women cliches into the feminine empowerment persona. It’s kind of the greatest hits version of all the characters she’s done before. When she’s onscreen there is verve. The rest, other than the background jokes, is standard issue Mafia characters and constructions.

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Mafia Mamma gets a 3.0 out of 5 or a B. It’s streaming on Showtime.

Bleecker Street

Credits:

Directed by

Catherine Hardwicke

Screenplay by

  • Michael J. Feldman
  • Debbie Jhoon

Story by

Amanda Sthers

Produced by

Starring

Cinematography

Patrick Murguia

Edited by

Waldemar Centeno

Music by

Alex Heffes

Production

companies

  • Idea(L)
  • Vocab Films
  • New Sparta Production

Distributed by

Bleecker Street

Release date

  • April 14, 2023

Running time

101 minutes

Country

United States

Languages

  • English
  • Italian

Bleecker Street


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