‘Mafia Mamma’ review: Toni Collette plays the reluctant godmother in a suave Italian mafia comedy

mafia mommy could have been a contender, a great idea to launch an unsuspecting wife, mother, and frustrated businesswoman into a new life as the head of an Italian crime family. Instead, although blessed to have the wonderful Toni Collette in the lead role, it becomes a paste with too many ingredients. This isn’t to say that the general public isn’t satisfied, but this is a movie that feels like we’ve seen it too many times before. You’ll certainly laugh a bit, admire the Roman scenery, and root for Collette’s success, but it’s pretty bland when she should have been wickedly clever with this kind of premise. married to the mob is No.

Collette plays Kristin Balbano Jordan, an American in the midst of a life crisis. Her only son, Domenick (Tommy Rodger), leaves for college, discovers her slacker husband, Paul (Tim Daish), having sex with another woman, and is constantly criticized by her boss and misogynistic co-workers in your marketing work. It’s time for a change, and she’s about to get one she never could have anticipated.

Learning that the grandfather she never knew, Don Giuseppe Balbano (Alessandro Bressanello), has died, leaving her as the only heir left to take care of his business, she finds encouragement from her best friend, Jenny (a lively Sophia Nomvete) to take the opportunity to attend his funeral in Rome as a way to turn things around, find a little Eat, Pray, Love at this time in your life. So, he leaves only to land in the danger zone when he finds out (after an assassination attempt at the funeral) that the grandfather was actually the head of Italy’s Balbano Mafia clan and murdered by a rival (Eduardo Scarpetta), leaving instructions for Kristin to succeed him. as head of the family “business”. In industry terms, this becomes a “fish out of water” setup.

Of course she’s horrified by the idea, and it’s as ridiculous as it sounds, but in Michael J. Feldman and Debbie Jhoon’s screenplay from a screen story by Amanda Sthers, she tries to be plausible as Kristin is guided throughout by the Consigliere, Bianca (an always welcome Monica Bellucci) who uses cunning arguments and sage advice to empower the new female Don. Mixing Italian mafia stereotypes for the more violent aspects of the story with a dream romance in the hotpot, in the form of a man named Lorenzo (Giulio Corso) who after a chance encounter becomes an instant romantic interest for her. , along with some twists. here and there, Kristin rises to the occasion by finding ways around the shooting to make the Balbano winery and other illicit activities a cause for good instead of evil, and outwitting the mob boys.

In his own way, veteran director catherine hardwicke (Twilight) has turned all of this into a more mainstream feminist comedy, a vehicle for Collette, elevating it a bit and making it all acceptable and likable enough for its 100-minute run. Without the likes of Collette and Bellucci though, we’d be in trouble here, but they’re smart enough professionals in every sense of the word to make all of this easy enough. Nomvete also has its moments in an Italian court of all places, and Alfonso Perugini and Francesco Mastroianni also manage to delight as Kristin’s new bodyguards.

If you don’t ask for much, mafia mommy it can fill the bill for you if you miss out on the kind of standard studio comedy that the studios have largely abandoned: forgettable but harmless. This is released by Bleecker Street, which often specializes in films aimed at older audiences. It opens on Friday. The producers are Sthers, Christopher Simon and Collette.

Qualification: mafia mommy
Distributor: Bleecker Street
Release date: April 14, 2023
Director: catherine hardwicke
Screenwriters: Michael J. Feldman and Debbie Jhoon (from a story by Amanda Sters)
Cast: Toni Collette, Monica Bellucci, Sophia Nomvete, Alfonso Perugini, Francesco Mastroianni, Giulio Corso, Eduardo Scarpetta, Tim Daish, Tommy Rodger
Classification: R.
Execution time: 1 hour 41 minutes

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