Posted on April 13, 2023 at 5:40 pmC
|Lowest Recommended Age:||Mature High Schooler|
|MPAA Rating:||Rated R for bloody violence, sexual content and language|
|Alcohol/ Drugs:||Drinking and drunkenness, references to drug dealing|
|Violence/ Scariness:||Crime-related peril and violence including shoot-outs, murders, poison|
|Date Released to Theaters:||April 14, 2023|
“Mafia Mamma” is a high concept elevator pitch that might have sustained a seven-minute comedy sketch but does not work as a feature-length movie. It’s a classic fish out of water: American suburban mom inherits an Italian mafia operation in the middle of a turf war. It could have worked. I kept thinking of the ever-delightful “Married to the Mob.” But it relies too heavily on the set-up to carry the movie, with thinly conceived characters. The plot twists are predictable and boring, the funny parts are not that funny, and the gory parts are, well, also not that funny, and not very
Toni Collette plays Kristin. She works in marketing at a pharmaceutical company. The men in her group do not appreciate her. Neither does her immature and dependent husband, Paul (Tim Daish). Their son is leaving for college (Tommy Rodger as Dominick). When she discovers her husband is cheating on her just as she learns that her grandfather in Italy has died, she decides to go to the funeral, even though she had not been in contact with him since she and her mother left Italy when she was a toddler. The character has exactly one attribute: always doing for others and putting herself last. With the encouragement of her best friend, Jenny (Sophia Nomvete), she decides to turn the trip to Italy into a chance to enjoy herself, or, as she puts it with the absence of any charm or wit that makes this movie such a trudge, “my own ‘Under the Tuscan Sun,’ eat, pray, f***.”
At the airport in Rome, she literally bumps into handsome Lorenzo (Giulio Corso) and, encouraged by his aunt (Dora Romano) gives him her number. Then she is whisked off to the funeral of the grandfather she does not remember, which turns into a massive shoot-out. Grandpa was a mob boss, and in a video he left for Kristin he explains that after her father was killed he sent her and her mother to America and had no contact with them to keep them safe. Since only a family member can take over for him, he has essentially left the entire operation to Kristin. Bianca, her grandfather’s closest associate (Monica Bellucci) persuades her to take a meeting with the rival mob, promising that if she does that, Bianca will let her see Lorenzo so she can have sex for the first time in three years.
Kristin stumbles successfully through various encounters with the rival bad guys and with some threats inside her own bunch of bad guys, with some very grisly but intended to be humorous murders, including poison and death by stiletto. Also intended to be humorous is the contrast between her various nice suburban lady persona and the ruthless murderers and drug dealers she is surrounded with. “I made muffins!” she announces cheerily, and then feels called upon to explain that she had to use the bananas before they went bad. Collette and Belucci are great as always, but their underwritten roles, and the script’s unsurprising surprises and lurches from set-up to set-up, and tone to tone keep getting in the way instead of moving it forward. By the time it gets to a big courtroom climax, the trial somehow conducted in English with an American lawyer, and somehow being about how nice Kristin is instead of the bloodbath she was involved in. The result, not just of the trial but of the movie itself, just feels lazy.
Parents should know that this has a lot of graphic violence for a comedy, with shoot-outs and grisly murders, chopping off the hand of a corpse to send a message, poison, gouging out someone’s eyes, etc. Characters commit many crimes including drug dealing. Characters drink and smoke and use strong language and there are sexual references and situations.
Family discussion: What qualities did Kristin have that made her a good boss? Has anyone in your family ever inherited anything unusual?
If you like this, try: “Married to the Mob” and “The Ladykillers” (1955 version)