Funny how? Mob comedy ‘Mafia Mamma’ goes terribly wrong

Toni Collette delivers a loud and messy performance in ludicrous film that overdoes the violence.

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California mom Kristin (Toni Collette) learns her mobster uncle has died in “Mafia Mamma.”

Bleecker Street

Mamma See Ya.

Run, don’t walk, away from any temptation you might have to see the off-putting, unfunny, clunky and cartoonishly terrible would-be mob comedy “Mafia Mamma,” which is so lacking in subtlety, cohesion and humor, it makes “Murder Mystery 2” seem like a Rian Johnson thriller.

From the cheesy title that sounds like something from the Seinfeld Fake Movie Library to the tired Fish Out of Water plot to the lazy and lame “Godfather” references to the surprisingly hammy and ineffective performances from the talented cast, “Mafia Mamma” has the look and feel of a cut-rate comedy from the 1980s or 1990s. That this train wreck was directed by the talented Catherine Hardwicke of “Thirteen” and “Twilight” distinction makes it all the more confounding. How could everything go so wrong in such spectacular fashion?

‘Mafia Mamma’


Bleecker Street presents a film directed by Catherine Hardwicke and written by Michael J. Feldman and Debbie Jhoon. Rated R (for bloody violence, sexual content and language). Running time: 101 minutes. Opens Thursday at local theaters.

Toni Collette has often proved to be an electric screen presence, but she delivers a loud and messy performance here as the sweet but daffy Kristin, a Long Beach, California, mom and wife who works as pitchwoman for a pharma company staffed by a trio of execrable, misogynist men. Now then: please fasten your seatbelts for this next plot development, cuz it’s a doozy.

At the same time Kristin finds her doofus of a husband (Tim Daish) having sex with her son’s guidance counselor in the family basement, she’s taking a call from Monica Belluci’s Bianca, the trusted consigliere for the Balbano crime family in Rome, informing Kristin that her grandfather, Don Giuseppe Balbano, has died. Even though Kristin has never met the man (the reason given makes no sense), she must fly to Italy for the obligatory Reading of the Will via Video Recorded Message. With Kristin’s best friend and attorney Jenny (Sophia Nomvete) urging her to get her “Eat, Pray, F---” on, Kristin jets off to Rome. Sure, why not.

By this time we’ve lost all contact with anything resembling the real world (even for a broad comedy), and it gets much more ludicrous, and occasionally gruesomely violent, from there.

Kristin comports herself in a shrill, dopey and inappropriate manner from the moment she arrives at her grandfather’s funeral, which turns into a bloodbath of a shootout played for comedic effect (to no avail). Turns out Don Balbano’s final decree was that Kristin take over the family crime syndicate, much to the anger of the hotheaded Fabrizio (Eduardo Scarpetta), who thinks he should have inherited the mantle, and the amusement of the rival Romano family. Ah, but Kristin somehow stumbles her way into killing first the head of the Romano family, and then the Romanos’ top assassin; guess she’s got a knack for this!

The aforementioned developments give rise to some truly awful moments, e.g., Kristin vomiting on a corpse, and don’t even get me started about the scene involving eye sockets and a scrotum. I mean, what the actual bleep.

Oh, and of course there’s a romance with an impossibly handsome and mysterious man named Lorenzo (Giulio Corso), and when we learn the truth about Lorenzo, it pushes “Mafia Mamma” to the next level of silliness and stupidity.

I don’t believe I’ve seen a worse movie this year.

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