Toni Colette is a very talented actress who has given wonderful performances in some top-notch movies, beginning in 1994 with “Muriel’s Wedding,” then “About A Boy,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Knives Out” (my review is here) and “Nightmare Alley” (my review is here). She also starred in the TV series “The United States Of Tara,” the even better limited series, “Unbelievable” (which I raved out here), and “Pieces Of Her” (my review is here).
With a resumé like that, I was shocked Colette choose to star in a stone-cold stinker called “Mafia Mamma.”
She plays Kristin, an American woman who gets a phone call from Bianca (Monica Bellucci) in Italy, informing her that her grandfather has died there and she must go settle the estate. Expecting her own “Eat Pray Love” adventure, Kristin is shocked to discover she’s the sole heir to a mob family made up of every stereotypical mafia character you’ve ever seen.
This could have been a fun fish-out-of-water comedy, but instead it’s an overplayed farce in which every single performer overacts — including Colette. For that, I blame director Catherine Hardwicke, who must have seen the 1984 Michael Keaton/Joe Piscopo satire, “Johnny Dangerously,” and decided to make a movie that’s even less funny.
What qualifies as a joke in “Mafia Mamma?” Anytime anyone in Kristin’s mob family mentions the name of the rival mob family, they turn their heads and spit. And vice versa. That’s what screenwriters Amanda Sthers, J. Michael Feldman, and Debbie Jhoon considered so clever, their characters do it every time — without a spittoon in sight. The multiple mentions of “The Godfather” don’t help, either.
We are supposed to believe that Kristin grows into the role with the help of Bianca, her consigliere — but only if taking a tray of muffins to a negotiation with the head of the rival family counts as growth. Kristin also has sex with at least a couple of men, including a cabbie she meets at the airport. The completely unsexy love scenes are as awkward as the shootouts and violence are cartoonish. And I haven’t even mentioned the vomit, the eyeball, and the scrotum — another trifecta of supposedly wacky plot points that could not have been less amusing.
I don’t know if Colette’s involvement in “Mafia Mamma” was the turning point that got the movie financed, but shame on her for being involved with it in the first place. Anyone with a track record like hers should have thrown the script back in the face of whoever made her read it.
In the first paragraph above, I included links to my reviews of four other projects Toni Colette appeared in. You’d be better off watching any of those than this dreck. I will be shocked if I see a movie in the next eight months that can beat “Mafia Mamma” for the top spot on my Worst Movies Of 2023 list.
I’m being generous by giving it a 1 out of 10.
Opens in theaters tomorrow.