"An Offer You Can Refuse"
JANE AUSTIN'S MAFIA is a parody of many of the Mafia movies of the past few decades. Jay Mohr plays the central character, Anthony Cortino, who must decide whether to join his family of crime after returning from the Vietnam War. With extensive slapstick and action violence, sexual humor and a pagan worldview, this is not a family film despite its PG-13 rating.
Jim Abrahams has brought the American cinema some of the unforgettable parodies of the 80s and 90s. With AIRPLANE and NAKED GUN, he gave the viewing audience the chance to laugh at some of the classic genres of this cinematic era. With MAFIA, Abrahams tries to give a comedic twists to classic films such as THE GODFATHER, CASINO, IL POSTINO and even FORREST GUMP, but it lacks the magic and irreverent charm of many of his previous films. MAFIA will not go down in history as one of Abrahams’ best films.
MAFIA follows the story of the Cortino family as it unfolds over a century. It begins with Vincenzo Cortino ( Lloyd Bridges) as a young child and his first introduction to crime as he delivers a package to a crime family’s home. Due to his clumsiness, he is forced to leave his native Sicily and swim to America while chasing a ship named, Il Pacino. There he is exposed to crime, but he uses his wit to outsmart the normally dense group of mobsters. He experiences Ellis Island and all of the aliens coming into the country, including ET. Vincenzo’s life flashes ahead to the 60’s, in GODFATHER-like fashion, to the wedding of his eldest son, Joey (Billy Burke), and the return of his war-hero son, Anthony (Jay Mohr). During the wedding ceremony, Vincenzo (Lloyd Bridges) is shot while dancing what looks like the Macarena. While close to death, he begins to evaluate his life and who will be in charge of the family business.
After the wedding scene, the story is turned over to Anthony and narrated similar to THE GODFATHER and CASINO story lines. Anthony, or Tony, must decide whether to revenge his father’s shooting or lose the love of his life, Diane (Christina Applegate). As any good son will do, he decides to defend the honor of his father in a scene reminiscent of the legendary café scene from the Godfather. Even with the seriousness of the subject, enough comedic twists are added that El Nino can even be blamed for some of the problems Tony has with killing. After this incident, he moves to Las Vegas to run a casino called the Peppermill. His psychotic brother, Joey, comes out to run security and all seems to be going well. Then, Tony begins to date a stripper, and Joey continues his cocaine problems (a scene that would surpass SCARFACE in ludicrousness.) This causes the beginning of the end of their lives in Vegas and parodies the violent ending of CASINO. The brothers lose trust in one another which is escalated when their father decides to make Tony the head of the family business.
As the head of the business, Tony stays in control of the Mafia, but tries to repent. He finds Diane, who has become the President of the United States, and they decide to get married. They manage to develop world peace but still sustain the traditions of organized crime. Without giving away the ending, the Cortino family lives on to run the mob for generations to come. (In Abrahams’ fashion, their son, Tiffany, runs the family business.)
Fans of the original AIRPLANE may be excited to see Jim Abrahams’ latest offering. Seeing his films always requires the disengaging of logic and standards and creates humor in a normally serious genre. Picking the Mafia seemed like a logical move for Abrahams, with all the movies from Scorsese and Coppola to use as material, but this movie does not have the timing of his other films. The funny sequences were not linked together well and many of the “funny” scenes were actually revolting. Nevertheless, Abraham’s still manages to hold the attention of the crowd throughout the credits, by adding in raw bits of humor.
These subtle additions require the audience’s full attention, as many details come and go quickly. Abrahams uses too many modern day references which will not allow this film to weather the test of time. True fans of Abrahams’ work may hope he will return to writing with the Zuckers, his previous writing partners. Hopefully this partnership would mark a return to better comedic storylines that do not require excessive references to sex and flatulence as the main forms of entertainment.
The saddest part of the film is the dedication to Lloyd Bridges at the end of the film. He deserves to be memorialized in a better film. Bridges has good comedic timing in the movie and delivers his lines at the same caliber as AIRPLANE or HOT SHOTS, but this was not his best work. Jay Mohr actually handles a comedy lead well, and it is hoped that he will find better material in the future. Christina Applegate does not extend beyond her MARRIED WITH CHILDREN role. She tries to force her role into the film, but delivers a mediocre performance. The biggest disappointment is the inclusion of Olympia Dukakis in this film. She was unrecognizable, did not deliver more than two lines, but passed gas 15 times. This film is a waste of a talented group of performers.
This movie will offend the viewer who does not like a good dose of sarcasm and infantile humor. Though lacking a moral center, MAFIA does not over use vulgar language to get its point across. Though completely, tongue in cheek, MAFIA lacks the originality of Jim Abrahams’ earlier works, movies that made parody fresh and fun to watch.
(Pa, VVV, S, NN, A, D, M) Pagan parody of classic Mafia films of the past three decades; 6 obscenities & 4 vulgarities; extensive action/slapstick including man shot 41 times, two men shot in the face, car bomb blows man into the sky, woman hits man, man has head kicked off, man's thumb cut off, man shot while holding his son, man poisoned with bug spray, child implied to be eaten by dinosaurs, man harpooned in dinosaur costume, boy smashed behind a door, man stabbed by a bouquet of flowers, woman consistently hits people in the head with wooden spoon, boy bit by a rat, & man stuns 15 people with stun gun; sexual innuendo & sexual humor; woman in bikini and leather stripping outfit, upper male nudity & man in bikini bottom; alcohol use; smoking & excessive cocaine use; and, flatulence & gambling.