de facto film reviews 1 star



While the mafia comedy has certainly run its course in cinema, it hardly needs another addition: we have had some sharply funny ones previously with such titles like My Cousin Vinny and Get Shorty to a lot of mediocre ones like The Whole Nine Yards and the even more forgettable The Whole Ten Yards. Subsequently, Mafia Mamma has all the potential of being clever, it ends up being more painfully unfunny as the film progresses. It’s baffling to see so much potential wasted on a script by Michael J. Feldman and Debbie Jhoon that’s based on an idea from its producer Amanda Sthers who all seem to want to subvert some genre expectations in a failed attempt to shake things up a bit. With that, there is so much going for this film: it has a very gifted director (Catherine Hardwicke), two great leads (Toni Collette and Monica Bellucci), and the creators intertwine some themes of female empowerment. It all sounds promising on paper, but is gone by its poor execution that consists of cartoonish stereotypes, redundant jokes, and an overlong sequence of events in the third act where the film doesn’t know how it wants to end. The end result is a blunder of a comedy, a painfully unfunny one at it.

Irritating and frustrating from the very beginning, the performance by Toni Collette is the most beguiling. When not doing great dramatic work in such brilliant roles as In Her Shoes, and Japanese Story to name a few. She has had a long history of playing very comedic roles as well in such films as her breakout in Murial’s Wedding, Little Miss Sunshine, and The Way, Way Back. She has proven she can do horror films effectively well with The Sixth Sense and Hereditary, but her performance in Mafia Mamma is comedically ineffective due to the writing and delivery. For Starters, her character makes one uninspired Godfather reference after the other, and her character and performance is irritating, loud, and inconsistent. Collette plays Kristen, an overly dotty but amiable Mom and wife from Long Beach, California. She is the breadwinner of the family as she works in the marketing department for a pharmaceutical company under a group of misogynist co-workers.

Mafia Mamma' Red Band Teaser: Toni Collette Action-Comedy From Bleecker Street – Deadline Courtesy Bleeker Street Films

Unhappy with her job, more bad things continue to happen once she finds out from her grandfather’s confidant named Bianca (Belluci) that her Italian grandfather just past away in Rome, Italy and that she must fly out to Rome for the funeral and to be there for the will that he left for her. Flabbergasted by the news because of his death, and even more surprised he man she never met left her a will, she ends up trying to relay the news to her nitwit husband (Tim Daish) who she catches having sex their son’s mentor in the basement. It’s a very sad and awkward moment in the film as Kristen is certainly upset, but she’s so polite to her husband’s mistress, and she agrees to get coffee with her and even gives her phone back instead of smashing it. Under a lot of stress from her draining marriage, Kristen reveals to her best friend and attorney Jenny (Sophia Nomvete) to go out to Italy and to fulfill her sexual frustrations and uphold her fantasies and dreams that involve Italian men and a young Stanley Tucci.

Once Kristen travels to Rome to attend the funeral, she deservedly ends up treating the trip more as a vacation. It’s revealed she is the new ringleader and mob boss of the family crime syndicate, which frustrates her second cousin Fabrizio (Eduardo Sacchi), who believes he’s entitled to be the don of the family. Through many slapstick gags, Kristen ends up dodging getting murdered by a family rival Boss and ends up killing their top contract killer with the spike on her heels over and over with useless cuts of the spike of the heels going in and out of eyeballs and a scrotum during a Zoom call gets gruesomely violent that doesn’t correspond well to the tone of the film.

Trailer for mob comedy Mafia Mamma starring Toni Collette and Monica Bellucci Bleeker Street

As the film carries on, it only gets worse with one endless stupefying folly after the next. One is a tacked-on love interest involving a younger, mysterious Italian man named Lorenzo (Giulo Corso) that feels clunky with a payoff that feels so misguided and even too preposterous for a broad comedy such as this. Sadly, Collette and Bellucci can’t anchor the film. Collette is really humiliating herself scene after scene, and her performance wears off very quickly. Even Hardwicke’s direction feels lethargic and void of passion and style. Nothing in Mafia Mamma feels sustained, from the futile writing to Collette’s character arc, to the character motivations. It appears to be a film that has great intentions of shaking up an often-male dominated genre, only to lose focus, and resort back to some of the very worst traits and flat humor we have seen in bad mafia comedies before. All things considered, avoid this disastrous and atrocious mess of a movie.

MAFIA MAMMA opens in theaters Friday, April 14th.