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2014 | 2013 | 1998 | 1997

1 item from 1998

Film review: 'Mafia!'

24 July 1998 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

According to the posters and ads, it's called "Mafia!" On the actual prints, the title is "Jane Austen's Mafia!"

Whatever the name, the product's still lame.

A two-decades-too-late spoof on "The Godfather" movies (with a little "Casino" and "GoodFellas" tossed in), the tediously sophomoric picture from the people who brought you "Hot Shots!" is more of the same, only this time without the funny bits.

Director/co-writer Jim Abrahams, who pioneered the Gatling gun gag format along with the Zucker brothers to side-splitting effect with the "Airplane!" and "Naked Gun" movies, has applied the old formula here only to discover that the shtick no longer sticks.

Leaving a mess of misfired potty jokes and tired visual puns in its wake, "Mafia!" makes the Farrelly brothers look like auteurs by comparison. This is an offer audiences will likely refuse.

Sadly, the picture marks the final screen appearance of Lloyd Bridges, who, like Chris Farley ("Almost Heroes"), John Candy ("Wagons East!") and Peter Sellers ("The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu") before him does not exit on a triumphant note.

A ZAZ veteran who would serve as a major, career-reshaping influence on Leslie Nielsen, an obviously ailing Bridges plays Vincenzo Cortino, the befuddled Mob don whose hot-shot son Anthony (Jay Mohr) is being groomed to take over the family business.

The family in question also includes Olympia Dukakis as flatulent matriarch Sophia Cortino, Billy Burke as two-timing sibling Joey Cortino and Christina Applegate as Diane, more or less the Diane Keaton character from the Francis Ford Coppola pictures. Pamela Gidley pops up as Pepper, a Sharon Stone-"Casino" type, while Alex Trebek and the Jeffersons put in a couple of unbilled appearances.

While some of the early Vegas sequences are amusing, the majority of the jokes (credited to Abrahams, Greg Norberg and Michael McManus) -- including the obligatory O.J. reference and a "Lord of the Dance meets" The Full Monty" sequence -- are warmed over and flatly uninspired.

Production values, including the molto Italiano score courtesy of one Gianni Frizzelli (John Frizzell), are good enough, but one is still left wishing somebody would have taken out a hit on this movie, whatever it's called.


Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Touchstone Pictures presents

a Tapestry Films production

A Jim Abrahams film

Director: Jim Abrahams

Screenwriters: Jim Abrahams & Greg Norberg

& Michael McManus

Producer: Bill Badalato

Executive producers: Peter Abrams &

Robert L. Levy

Director of photography: Pierre Letarte

Production designer: William Elliott

Editor: Terry Stokes

Costume designer: Mary Malin

Music: Gianni Frizzelli



Vincenzo Cortino: Lloyd Bridges

Anthony Cortino: Jay Mohr

Sophia Cortino: Olympia Dukakis

Diane: Christina Applegate

Joey Cortino: Billy Burke

Pepper: Pamela Gidley

Marzoni: Tony Lo Bianco

Tiny Anthony: Seth Adkins

Running time -- 86 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13


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