Plot: What’s it about?
t’s hard to believe in just a few months it’ll be 20 years since Mafia! Arrived in theaters. I remember my oldest brother was living at home at the time, and we’d go see movies regularly. While we saw many that summer, Mafia! Was not one that either of us got around to seeing. It was for no reason in particular, because I recall wanting to. While I caught pieces of it on cable here and there, I had never sat down to watch it in full. This means my reviewing it here is the first time I’ve seen the entire film in one sitting. Jim Abrahams is no stranger to satire as he’s the man behind such classics as Airplane, Hot Shots and Top Secret. I enjoyed those three films, but Mafia leaves a lot to be desired. Here he targets popular mob films, but with mixed results. The laughs just don’t fly at us like they did before. Ultimately the film is just too much of a mixed bag to get my full recommendation, but the film gets points for trying. And boy, does it try.
Lloyd Bridges plays Vincenzo Cortino, basically he’s the Godfather. We see his origin story, so to speak, and flashbacks to his childhood and the present are integrated throughout the film. His son Anthony Cortino (Jay Mohr) returns from the war with his girlfriend Diane (Christina Applegate). There’s a wedding reception in which Vincenzo is shot 47 times, but isn’t killed. This is when Anthony plans to get revenge and murder the men responsible. Godfather is one of many films the film spoofs, Casino (one of my all-time favorite films) is another. The film even takes aim at the opening sequence from that film where we see Anthony’s car exploding and the long opening credits follow. A lot of ground is covered in the film’s short (80 something minutes) running time, but the plot is secondary to the jokes.
No matter what I say, when it comes to the comedy/spoof genre there’s only so much I can say other than if I laughed or not. Sadly, the jokes just don’t let here like they should. It doesn’t help that the first half is a bit too slow for its own good. I understand it’s to spoof The Godfather, but it brings the film to a screeching halt when it should be firing on all cylinders. While the film works tirelessly to throw jokes our way, very few of them actually land. Unfortunately there just isn’t enough here for me to recommend the film. There were some decent chuckles and sight gags, but much of the material here falls flat. We also get a few too many fart jokes that aim too low and don’t hit. Jay Mohr is a good actor, but he just feels out of place here. Mafia is a film if you catch randomly on cable then you might want to catch, but otherwise I’d skip it and seek out better satires. Abrahams himself has done far better work than what we see here
Video: How’s it look?
Thankfully, the transfer has been cleaned up and looks quite nice. The print is clean and free of noticeable flaws, as well as strong colors and details. It isn’t a film you’d watch for the visuals, but they’re at least nice here. We’re treated to an AVC encoded transfer with a 1.85:1 ratio. Fans should be pleased with the results here.
Audio: How’s it sound?
We can choose between a 5.1 track and a 2.0 track. I opted for the former, and it gives us what we’ve come to expect. There’s a strong use of all channels, vocals are crisp, making it the desired option for us. There’s a good bit of action and it pulls us into this world. I can’t think of any times it felt limited at all. Like the transfer, the 5.1 track gives us strong results.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – Director Jim Abrahams and co-writers/co-producers Greg Norberg and Michael McManus provide their thoughts. The track goes silent a few times, but there’s more than enough worthy tidbits to keep us engaged.
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
Mafia! has a few mild chuckles, but the film is surprisingly low on big laughs. I just can’t bring myself to recommend it. It’s better suited for cable or for already established fans who’d like to own it. All others should skip it and seek out a better comedy.