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Spike Lee's take on the "Son of Sam" murders in New York City during the summer of 1977 centering on the residents of an Italian-American South Bronx neighborhood who live in fear and distrust of one another.
Mario Bellini's life as an undertaker may not be filled with romance, but his funeral parlor certainly sees some action: Business is booming because of a local mob war. While wise guys are being bumped off left and right, Mario is asked by crime boss Alberto to hide his hit man brother Rocco. A love quadrangle forms among Mario and Rocco's long-suffering wife Maria, Rocco and Mario's girlfriend Louise, and the body count suddenly rises. Written by
I enjoy black humor, and my all-time favorite flicks include "The Wrong Box" and "The Loved One".
TUW attempts to be that sort of film--a black comedy centering around the trapping of death and funerals. But in this case, a nice premise and some excellent opportunities for comedy were squandered in order to bring the viewers a made-for-TV caliber romance and Italian-American/mob stereotypes. And that's a bit of a pity, considering some of the acting talent assembled.
However, this movie is NOT going to be the worst hour and a half you ever spent camped out on the couch. It's very pleasant, and looks quite good.
The central premise is that if you are the scion to a long and distinguished line of undertakers to the Mob and live in apartments adjoining your funeral home, you will probably have a difficult time finding a nice girl to marry you due to having dead bodies in various stages of preservation camped out on gurneys down the hall. So, despite having an assortment of nice ties, and apparently a thriving business, Our Hero in this one is lovelorn in the extreme.
Where do they find these idiot women? I mean, what are a few dead bodies down the hall and a seriously bad haircut compared to getting hooked up with Adrien Brody?
The Lovelorn Undertaker is played by Adrien Brody, and I spent the whole first half of the movie wondering which comedian of Jewish extraction his hairstylist was trying to get him to look like. At first, I thought...Moe Howard. But the bangs weren't long enough. Then, I thought "Adam Sandler", but his hair was just a bit too long and brushed forward over the temples for him to be aping Happy Gilmour. Then, it hit me. JERRY LEWIS! Yeah! In the Dean Martin era!
Once I'd figured it out, I felt much happier, and was able to settle back and enjoy the flick.
It's easy to see that Adrien Brody would flat-out tear it up if he were given a better written, romantic comedic role, and one can only hope that happens, so that he does not get forever typecast as a broody, moody, artistic or tormented sort. Here, the big, sad, puppydog eyes and trembling lips are outta control, and despite the too-large suits, he manages to make his rather hangdog character sympathetic, amusing, and attractive.
So, for Brody fans--a rewarding view. For everyone else, a pleasant, unchallenging hour and a half of fluff.
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