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Mail Order Bride

1 December 2003 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Small Planet Pictures

NEW YORK -- The latest in a seemingly endless spate of Mafia-themed comedies, this effort is distinctive only for its extensive location shooting in Moscow. The tale of a hapless would-be tough guy traveling to Russia in pursuit of a mail-order bride who has scammed a series of hapless Americans, including a "family" member, "Mail Order Bride" is ultimately unable to overcome both its amateurish qualities and its overly familiar elements. It is playing an exclusive engagement at Manhattan's Village East Cinema.

Robert Capelli Jr., who also co-directed (with Jeffrey Wolf) and co-wrote the screenplay (with Doug Bollinger and Sergey Konenkov), stars as Anthony Santini, the nephew of mob boss Tony Santini (Danny Aiello). When Tony's "friend" Jackie the Viking (Jackie Martling) is scammed by his beautiful Russian "bride" Nina, he sees a perfect opportunity to get his troublesome nephew out of his hair by sending him to Moscow in pursuit of both the girl and the money. He also finds a way to make money on the proposition -- by placing odds on Anthony's inevitable failure.

In Moscow, Anthony teams up with Ivan (Slava Schoot), the son of Moscow's top mob boss, in pursuit of the elusive Nina. Encountering a city filled with sleazy nightclubs populated by strippers and whores, Anthony soon finds himself falling head over heels with the beautiful "Butterfly" (Ivana Milicevic), who, it turns out, also happens to be the object of his pursuit. Needless to say, complications ensue, with Butterfly getting Anthony involved in a risky bank robbery.

The filmmakers clearly intend a light-hearted gangster romp, freely mixing lowbrow humor with antic action, but they generally fail on both counts. Despite a series of cameo appearances by a procession of familiar faces -- Frank Gorshin as the "No. 1 doctor in all of Russia", Artie Lange as Anthony's buffoonish pal and, in the requisite lifting from the cast of "The Sopranos", Vincent Pastore as a goodfella who sells designer clothing out of the trunk of his car -- the film is content to simply reprise comedic cliches and squanders the opportunities to be found for genuine humor in the culture clash between the Italian and Russian mobs.

Not helping matters are the mostly ineffectual performances, though Schoot finds some moments of sly humor as the exasperated Ivan, and Milicevic is utterly ravishing as the Russian femme fatale.

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2004 | 2003

1 item from 2003


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