Jay Mohr as Anthony Cortino
Lloyd Bridges as Vincenzo Cortino
Christina Applegate as Diane Sheen
Billy Burke as Joey Cortino
Olympia Dukakis as Sophia
Pamela Gidley as Pepper Gianini
Louis Mandylor and Jason Fuchs as younger Vinzenzos
By 1998, the modern spoof had been around for some time. We had seen parodies of horror (Scream), disaster drama (Airplane!), sci-fi (Spaceballs), action (Hot Shots!), and superhero (Blankman, for what notice that crappy movie deserves) movies, but for some reason, not mob movies. The question is not “why did this movie spoof gangster movies” but “what took them so long?” Perhaps the answer is that since this sub-genre is flooded with movies based on real events, it’s not considered quite as much fair game.
Mafia! changed that. It parodies pretty much every big gangster movie since Hollywood’s no-swearing policy was scrapped sometime in the (I think) late 1960s. Mockeries are made of Scarface, Goodfellas, some non-crime films like Jurassic Park and Forrest Gump, but mostly, it spoofs the Godfather, the Godfather Part II, and Casino. It’s not a very popular movie. I can see why, but I wouldn’t call it a bad movie. It doesn’t break new ground among spoofs, nor are the jokes overly clever. But I still consider it a decently funny movie.
Our story is about super-clumsy Cortino crime family Don Vincenzo Cortino and his son, Anthony. Anthony is dating an idealist for world peace named Diane Sheen. But when Vincenzo is shot forty-seven times (and is mistaken for a great dancer) at the birthday of his other son, Joey, Anthony chooses to do the retributive hit, which drives away Diane. Anthony retreats to a rather comical Las Vegas and is seduced by a hustler. We reenact some more of Casino before returning to the Godfather. By the end credits, Anthony has destroyed all his enemies and gotten back together with Diane.
As far as the humor goes, the jokes aren’t smart, but they’re funny nonetheless. Joking about how much a rigged game Las Vegas is or showing an Eskimo nicknamed the Iceman may not be insightful, but they can make you laugh at those who go to Vegas all starry-eyed and the weird-looking gangsters in old movies. Don’t expect an ingenious satire like the Big Lebowski and you’ll laugh.
Performances are solid. This was one of Lloyd Bridges last movies, and we can see that he always was a great comic actor. Meanwhile, Jay Mohr makes great comedic license of the Al Pacino character of Michael Corleone. There are some surprises that don’t follow the plots of the movies that spoofed (another thing Mafia! does right that its detractors don’t see) and that I really can’t bring up without spoiling the movie. Suffice to say, they do a good job.
I totally understand and get that it’s easy to see this as “Hot Shots! goes gangsta.” Nonetheless, I laughed a lot through this movie, if not as much as I would’ve liked. The humor hitting the right spot, the social commentary, and the homages to mob movies of the past to the point of repeating some of their lines, are all there.
Like Henry Hill and Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas, Mafia! can’t be made. But it can at least be admitted into a crew.
Overall: 7 out of 10