Jane Austen's Mafia!
Worth a few good laughs
Korean War veteran "Tony" (Jay Mohr), the son of Mafia boss "Vincenzo Armani Windbreaker Cortino" (Lloyd Bridges, in his final role before his death), is hand-picked by his retiring father to take over the family "business." However, this causes a rift between him and his Protestant, peace-loving girlfriend, "Diane" (Christina Applegate), who leaves him when it's obvious that the man she loves is not really what she thought him to be.
Now, "Tony" lives the life of a mafioso, while trying to find a long-time family enemy who lost his thumb in a bizarre incident.
If you are a Lloyd Bridges fan, then you have to see this only because this was his final role before his death. This film is in the same vein as the "Hot Shots" movies, which also starred him, but you will not laugh as much as you would with those films. He was a lot funnier in the "Hot Shots" movies, but does bring some pretty good laughs in this film.
Surprisingly, Mohr is pretty good in his role. He is pretty much the straight man for the rest of the cast and the visual jokes (like a Vegas version of Candy Land). If you ask me, he played "Tony" somewhere between a comedic role and a more dramatic role, and did it nicely. He also did a pretty good narration, but it wasn't perfect.
You get a pretty even amount of physical comedy with some comical lines all through the film -- all the way through the end of the closing credits in fact. And I suggest you actually watch the closing credits because they slipped some jokes into them. However, I felt that many of the jokes just didn't work, and found myself not laughing at them.
The plot somewhat follows the one seen in "The Godfather" and relies heavily on that, and other Mafia movies. However, "The Godfather" series is the obvious inspiration for this film. However, they do slip in some jokes poking fun at more modern things like HMOs, popular children's games like Chutes and Ladders and President Bill Clinton's denial of not having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinski.
There is character development in this film, but not a whole lot. I thought a few characters could have been developed more, especially if they helped in the plot twists. Even some of the major players in this film was not greatly developed.
Because the cast is mainly Italian, a lot of jokes target the Italian life. Many people may find these jokes offensive. If you ask me, these jokes are fairly tame though.
This movie is not for everybody. In fact, if you haven't seen some of the greatest Mafia movies, especially the "Godfather" trilogy, you might not like this movie. Like I said earlier, there are some jokes referencing things and events we've all experienced in out lives, but this movie is for fans of the Mafia movie genre more than any other audience.
Believe it or not, there is no blood in this movie despite the subject. Yes, there is some violence, but it's played for comedy. At one point in the movie, "Don Cortino" (Bridges) is riddled with bullets, but no blood comes from the wounds and the witnesses, including the band playing during the scene, thinks he is doing various dances including the Macarena. You even get a death by flowers (where we are lead into by a reference to "Forrest Gump").
If you are looking for Oscar-worthy performances, this movie is absolutely not for you. Except for Mohr, you mainly get over-the-top performances from the cast. Mohr, who plays his role straight compared to the rest of the cast, and Bridges are easily the two best performances. However, Olympia Dukakis, who plays Bridges mother (she was actually 20 years younger than him at the time this film was made) stands from of the supporting cast. Other major performers were given weakly written characters, and their performances reflect that.
Unlike the "Godfather" trilogy, the score here is not really memorable. You get some current music, from the time of its making and release, but nothing too spectacular worth noting by way of original music.
This movie got destroyed by critics when it was finally released. But, like most movies, it's not as bad as they say. If you like the "Airplane!" and "Hot Shots" movies, you may like this one. However, I find that this one can't live up to the comic genius of those previous movies.
If you ask me, I can't recommend this as a "Must See" movie, but check it out on HBO for some good laughs and because it's Bridges' final performance.