[Screen It]


(1998) (Jay Mohr, Billy Burke) (PG-13)

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Comedy: The elderly head of a powerful mafia family must decide which of his sons to name as his successor in this parody of organized crime movies.
Told in a series of flashbacks to different eras, we learn the story of the Cortino crime family. Forced from his home in Sicily, young Vincenzo Cortino (JASON FUCHS) ends up swimming to America for a better life. Growing up into a hardworking young man, he inadvertently kills a local crime boss, don Narducci (ANDREAS KATSULAS), while defending his young son, Anthony (SETH ADKINS), and thus begins his life in organized crime.

Many years later and in his twilight, Vincenzo (LLOYD BRIDGES) realizes he must hand over control of the family's reign of power to either Anthony (JAY MOHR), who's just returned from military service with his American girlfriend, Diane (CHRISTINA APPLEGATE), or to his other near psychotic son, Joey (BILLY BURKE).

As the years pass, Anthony ends up running a casino on the Vegas strip and has a fling with Pepper Gianini (PAMELA GIDLEY), a local stripper. While Joey is jealous that Anthony has gained more power than him, their family must deal not only with that internal friction, but also with another mafioso, don Marzoni (TONY LO BIANCO), who's trying to get in on their business.

If they like "goofy" comedies (like the "Airplane" or "Naked Gun" movies) or are fans of anyone in the cast, they probably will.
For crude and sex-related humor, language, violence and drug content.
  • Considering the nature of this genre, none of what occurs in the film is meant to be taken at face value and the same holds true for its characters.
  • JAY MOHR plays one of the mafioso's sons, a war hero who ends up killing some rival mafia types and has a fling with a stripper.
  • BILLY BURKE plays the other son, a jealous and near psychotic type who's hooked on cocaine.
  • CHRISTINA APPLEGATE plays Anthony's girlfriend who later goes on to bigger and better things.
  • LLOYD BRIDGES plays the bumbling and elder head of the crime family.


    OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
    Of all of the subject matter ready to be picked from the parody tree, the organized crime films are certainly ripe targets. After all, nearly everything's always portrayed so seriously and most of the mob figures are usually quite humorless guys. So, from the people who've made a living poking fun at airline disaster films, cop movies, and other genres comes their latest parody, "Mafia!" (which coincidentally had a more humorous original title, "Jane Austin's Mafia!" that's since been truncated).

    Like those other films helmed by writer/director Jim Abrahams (who also did "Ruthless People" and "Top Secret!"), the jokes here are fast and furious and fall all across the board. Not only is the organized crime genre parodied, but so is the obsession with losing money in Las Vegas (ie. Gambling). In fact, some of the film's most clever moments come from little bits where we see gamblers lose their money playing Vegas versions of "Go Fish," "52 Card Pickup," and "Guess A Number" (where a player guesses "two" and the dealer responds, "Sorry, I was thinking of three" and then scoops up their money).

    As in Abrahams other films, jabs and jokes unrelated to the main plot also appear throughout the picture. From bits of dialogue concerning O.J. Simpson ("If you prick a murderer, does he not leave a blood trail all the way back to his Rockingham estate") to props (a found gun identifies its owner as one of the Menendez brothers) and other goofy sight gags (depression era signs reading "Used Meat" and "Socks For Soup," and the sight of young Vincenzo pausing to catch his breath after swimming across the Atlantic), the film is oozing with humorous material.

    In fact, the anticipation and careful watching for such material have become some of the more enjoyable reasons to see these films -- especially as you try to catch all of the gags that Abrahams and his cowriters, Greg Norberg and Michael McManus (both of "Hot Shots!" fame), have injected throughout the movie. More often than not, the material is amusing, but only occasionally outrageously funny and misses the huge belly laughs found in the recent "There's Something About Mary."

    Like that film, however, some of this film's biggest comedy moments come from some gross-out, scatological material. One involves a scene where a young Vincenzo is smuggled past a thug in a certain body cavity of a mule, others using plenty of flatulence humor, and another is filled with a great deal of exaggerated (but rather funny if you're into that sort of thing) projectile vomiting.

    When compared with the other often brilliant parodies crafted by Abrahams and his team, however, this one feels a bit weaker. Perhaps it's the gangster genre, or the fact that these guys have spent so much of their rapid-fire gag talent on their previous films, but this one doesn't feel as clever or fresh as the "Airplane!" or "Naked Gun" films.

    Part of that also falls onto the shoulders of the cast. Much like the central performers from the original "Airplane!" (Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty), Jay Mohr ("Jerry Maguire," "Toy Soldiers") and Christina Applegate ("Mars Attacks!," TV's "Married...With Children") are likeable and quite game to be the butt of many jokes, but aren't exactly great parody performers -- despite their comedy backgrounds -- like Leslie Nielsen (despite his earlier career in dramatic roles).

    While "Airplane!" got around that with its novel material and a tremendous supporting cast (including Lloyd Bridges, Leslie Nielsen, and a whole host of other talented performers), things feel a bit less inspired here. In addition, the supporting cast is good (including Bridges, Olympia Dukakis and many other faces you'll recognize but not be able to name -- who were cast for their "mob" appearances), but certainly not as perfectly cast as many of those other parody films.

    Of course, the characters are there just to support the many gags, and this film should please those who like clever, goofy, and occasionally tasteless jokes coming at them nonstop and rolled up into one fast paced package. From the traditional slapstick and pratfalls to the menacing "guard sheep," and the parodies of "Jaws," "Jurassic Park," "Child's Play" and "Forrest Gump" (which the previews have spoiled) to the somewhat late, but still funny Macarena joke, the film throws out so much material that you can't help but find some (or a lot) of material that will elicit laughs or chuckles.

    While certainly not Abrahams' strongest entry in the genre, he and his team have thrown enough material at the screen to be the equivalent of several other comedies and that's not such a bad thing. As such, "Mafia!" is a good excuse to sit back, waste some time, and laugh at some funny and stupid jokes. We give the movie a 6 out of 10.

    Obviously, given a film of this nature and its genre, none of the material is meant to be taken seriously or at face value. Nonetheless, here's a quick look at its content, all of which is played for laughs. A character snorts cocaine in several scenes, and some drinking and smoking is also present.

    The film makes use of scatological content for some of its humor, and does the same with a moderate amount of sexually related material. Profanity consists of 1 "f" word at its worst, and several people are killed -- but only, of course, for laughs. Since kids may want to see this film, you should look through the content if you're concerned about its appropriateness.

  • Considering the nature of this genre, none of what occurs in the film is meant to be taken at face value.
  • People have drinks in a casino in several scenes.
  • Young Vincenzo delivers a package to a thug, but drops it, revealing its contents to be cocaine (which some sheep quickly sniff up and then pass out).
  • People have drinks and a champagne toast at a wedding reception.
  • Another mob type shows Vincenzo some cocaine and we then see Joey snorting some (before he inhales his rolled up dollar bill).
  • Anthony meets with some guys who drink wine.
  • People drink in a strip club.
  • Joey walks out with cocaine dust all over his nose and face. Later, we see him carrying a bag labeled "sugar," but it's really cocaine and he dumps it onto a table and snorts a great deal of it.
  • People drink champagne at a meeting.
  • A priest mixes a drink for a person.
  • Considering the nature of this genre, none of what occurs in the film is meant to be taken at face value.
  • Vincenzo picks up a severed thumb (not bloody).
  • A dead man's (obviously fake and rubbery) face is run over by a cart and then stepped on by a passerby.
  • Some scatological material occurs throughout the film. We hear a farting sound as Vincenzo's mother is pulled away from him, and some men state that they must hide young Vincenzo and then lift up a mule's tail (and tell him to hold his breath as he's presumably put inside -- later when he comes back out we hear some farting sounds). We also see an exaggeratedly large and distended baboon's butt (which is riding on a man's head), we hear many farting sounds as Vincenzo's elderly mother visits him in the hospital (and Anthony has to open the window), and we see small pieces of excrement tossed like dice in a "craps" game. Many people experience exaggerated projectile vomiting in one scene, and finally Vincenzo's old mother eats broccoli and drinks prune juice to create a gaseous explosion (after bending over) to kill someone.
  • We see a small bloody bullet hole in one guy's forehead and another on a man's nose after they've been shot.
  • We see a tiger chewing on a severed woman's leg (obviously fake) in a magic trick gone bad (no blood).
  • Anthony's head is covered with burn scars (like the character from "The English Patient") after surviving an explosion.
  • A man who's just been impaled with some sharpened flower stems has some blood running from his mouth.
  • A dancer is knocked unconscious and his replacement kicks a man's head from his shoulders (which lands in a person's soup, but isn't bloody).
  • Considering the nature of this genre, none of what occurs in the film is meant to be taken at face value.
  • Nearly everyone in the film is involved in organized crime to some extent or the other and several people are killed due to this.
  • A comment is made, "Watch these guys, I think they're stealing towels" about some Arabs wearing traditional ethnic headdresses.
  • Some may not like a scene from the turn of the century showing juggling nuns and a bishop (or similar high ranking religious official) walking on stilts during an olive ceremony parade.
  • Having returned from WWII, Anthony tells one of his father's men that he's brought him a present -- a Japanese P.O.W. -- and some jokes stem from that.
  • A depression era crime boss takes a cut of everyone's money in lieu of threatening them with physical harm.
  • A man has his son kill his grandfather for him.
  • None.
  • Handguns/Rifles/Knives/Car Bomb/Harpoon: Used to threaten or kill people. Considering the nature of this genre, however, none of what occurs in the film is meant to be taken at face value.
  • A boy gives young Vincenzo a bag containing a handgun (to smuggle through customs).
  • Phrases: "Banging" (sexual), "Chicks" and "Babes" (for women), "Loser," "Sucker," "Klutz," "Bastard," "Suck my Italian sausage," "Nuts" (crazy), "Slut," and "Nose candy" (for cocaine).
  • None.
  • A few scenes have a tiny bit of playfully suspenseful music in them.
  • None.
  • At least 1 "f" word, 2 "s" words, 1 possible slang term for male genitals (the "d" word), 5 asses (2 used in subtitles and 1 referring to a donkey in a double meaning), 1 hell, and 4 uses of "Oh my God" and 1 use of "My God" as exclamations.
  • Considering the nature of this genre, none of what occurs in the film is meant to be taken at face value.
  • Told to make a wish, young Vincenzo concentrates and we see a young girl's chest suddenly expand and her nipples protrude under her clothing.
  • Anthony tells Diane "If we were our fathers, what we did last night would only be legal in Arkansas."
  • Meeting Pepper and hearing her name, Anthony asks, "Any Sicilian in you?" She responds, "Not since last night."
  • Vincenzo comments that he loves his wife as much today as "the day I forced myself on her."
  • Some women show a bit of cleavage in their outfits.
  • Diane tells Anthony, "If you need me, I'll be up on the bidet."
  • When Anthony comments about someone "sleeping with the fishes," Vincenzo misunderstands and says that he hopes he's using protection.
  • A man tells his wife about a person "who sucks his own people dry," to which she replies, "Oh, like those movies you make me watch?"
  • We hear the empty sucking sounds (like a straw in an empty glass) of a baby breast-feeding.
  • Anthony watches an exotic dancer in a strip club (who bends over at one point showing some of her bare butt in her near thong-like bottom), but we don't see any other nudity (although she's dressed in a skimpy outfit). Later, we do see some cleavage in another outfit she wears.
  • Pepper tells Anthony that Marzoni "...helped me when I was down on my luck." When he thinks of the traditional meaning behind that saying, she comments that she was referring to the Chinese ambassador, Mi Luck.
  • Anthony hears what sounds like Joey playing with a dog ("Bark!"), but it turns out to be him and Pepper having an affair. He's standing behind her nude (seen only from the waist up) and she's wearing a feathered bra. Anthony then comments about her "banging" him and that he could accept Pepper and another woman, or even him, Pepper and another woman, but not her with his brother. Joey then spins around and knocks things over with his erection (not seen, but heavily implied), and a pigeon later lands and perches on the same.
  • We hear a President Clinton-like voice stating, "I did not have sexual relations with a woman...but I am wearing her underwear..."
  • During the end credit role, a joke is made about Joey opening a male potency clinic with a web address of "www.mr-stiffy.com" (or www.my-stiffy.com).
  • Several mob types, including Marzoni and Narducci, occasionally smoke cigars during the movie, as does someone playing Fidel Castro.
  • A dancer smokes a cigarette.
  • Vincenzo mistakenly tries to smoke a cat's tail that was severed into a cigar box by its lid.
  • People smoke in the backgrounds of certain scenes.
  • Anthony and Joey compete for their father's top mob position (and there's no love lost between them) and they attend their father's funeral (none of which is remotely played as serious).
  • The real mafia.
  • Considering the nature of this genre, none of what occurs in the film is meant to be taken seriously, or at face value.
  • A car blows up, sending Anthony flying through the air (seen twice).
  • There are some slapstick gags about young Vincenzo accidentally knocking some people over as well as smacking into a wall while riding a bike.
  • A man shoots his rifle at young Vincenzo after the boy sees that he was delivering cocaine to that man. The man shoots again, but his thumb gets torn off (not graphic) and jammed in his rifle that then fires the thumb at Vincenzo. He shoots again and a tree falls to the ground (as if it's been mortally wounded).
  • Later, this man appears in a crowded market and shoots at Vincenzo again, but hits and kills his father instead.
  • An older kid holds his knife to a younger girl he's trying to rob, but Vincenzo comes to her aide by outsmarting the older kid.
  • Vincenzo goes through some slapstick falling through his office, including a bit about a cat's tail being cut off in a cigar box.
  • Upon meeting Joey who feigns some playful punches at her, Diane slugs him and knocks him to the ground (and he then pulls out his gun in anger but is stopped).
  • A man pops out and shoots Vincenzo many times wounding him (played for laughs as everyone thinks he's moving to a dance beat). Joey then shoots this man and his tall escort dead.
  • An elderly woman whacks family members with a large wooden spoon at the dinner table while a parent whacks his kid on the back of the head.
  • To retaliate for the attempt on his father's life, Anthony shoots and kills two men.
  • Young Anthony's head hits a door frame as his father carries him out on his shoulders.
  • A stripper does some gymnastic moves on her dance poles and flies across the room and slams into the bar.
  • Getting the signal from Anthony that someone is cheating in the casino, Joey walks up with an electric "cattle prod" and zaps a woman, and then many others (who fall to the floor unconscious) as he tries to figure which one he's supposed to be after.
  • Pepper throws a vase and their dog at Anthony, both of which shatter upon hitting a wall.
  • Vincenzo's grandson sprays poisonous insecticide onto him, eventually killing him.
  • Back in the depression era, Narducci pulls out a gun on the young father Vincenzo who hits Narducci several times. The mob chieftain then pulls out a knife, but Vincenzo impales him with some sharpened flower stems.
  • A dancer is knocked unconscious and his replacement kicks a man's head from his shoulders.
  • A building blows up from a (human) gaseous explosion.
  • A costumed character is harpooned by a mafia member.

  • Reviewed July 20, 1998

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