Mafia Mamma (now on Showtime and Paramount+, along with streaming on VOD services like Amazon Prime Video) is a kind of film titles that’s just like the KEEP OFF THE GRASS signal on your crotchety neighbor’s garden: Everything says to remain away, however it additionally stirs up the morbid temptation to stomp throughout it simply to see what occurs. Toni Collette, a completely endearing gem of an actor, headlines this comedy, enjoying a dumb American who learns she’s inheritor to an Italian “reputable enterprise.” Feel free to chant the titles Hereditary, The Sixth Sense and Knives Out as an incantation in opposition to awful motion pictures with contrived, cheeseball premises, identical to this one, and as a reminder that each star takes a paycheck gig now and then. Mamma is directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who’s a good distance from Lords of Dogtown, Thirteen and possibly even Twilight, however near attaining notoriety for making one among 2023’s largest misfires.   


The Gist: ITALY – THE CALABRIAN REGION: Blood fills the cracks within the piazza. Dead our bodies all over the place. A pair of excessive heels walks by means of the carnage. The Don of the Balbano household is not any extra. A lady’s voice says, “This means battle.” CUT TO: KRISTIN’S SUBURBAN AMERICAN KITCHEN. Brownies, recent out of the oven. Kristin (Collette) is our protagonist. She cries as she drives a knife by means of the comfortable chocolatey goodness. Her telephone rings, and she ignores it. Her son is leaving for faculty. You know the scene – three backpacks on the child and a guitar in his hand and his mother is weeping and can’t cease hugging him and his mates are within the overstuffed automobile saying hey let’s go. Transitions. They’re powerful. And it’s about to get harder. Kristin’s job – she’s in pharma advertising and marketing and her boss is a sexist shitheel. As for her husband? “He’s in a band,” she says, and the reply is, “I’m sorry to listen to that,” and that explains all of it. She comes residence someday and finds the manchild shtoinking a younger steerage counselor. We’ve bought ourselves a midlife disaster in full bloom right here.

What about that telephone name, you’re most likely asking. I’m simply getting there: It’s from the this-means-war lady, Bianca (Monica Bellucci). We know she’s In The Mob however Kristin doesn’t. Bianca represents Kristin’s estranged grandfather, calling with the information that he’s useless and Kristin has to fly to Italy proper now to settle the property. Well, shit. Kristin resists at first, as a result of why would she need to depart the depressing rut she’s in with the empty nest and turdy husband and crappo job? She’s in a self-defense class that entails yelling CROTCH! EYE! CROTCH! EYE! repeatedly whereas punching a punching bag, and her spunky bestie Jenny (Sophia Nomvete) convinces her that a journey to Italy is the proper alternative for Kristin to get her “eat-pray-f—” on, and earlier than you already know it, the entire class is yelling EAT! PRAY! F—! EAT! PRAY! F—! repeatedly whereas punching a punching bag. “Louder!” Jenny bellows. “From the vagina!”

So Kristin lands in Italy, a naif simply ready to search out herself in an untenable state of affairs that, inevitably in motion pictures like this, our protagonist finds more and more tenable as a result of there’s a lot extra to her than being a ditzy chattering suburban American doofus. Right off the airplane, she’s charmed by good-looking youthful fella Lorenzo (Giulio Corso), who makes pasta, as a result of in Italy, one is employed both within the wine enterprise, the pasta enterprise, or the drugs-guns-and-stolen-goods enterprise. Then she’s whisked off to her grandfather’s property, the place she appears round in any respect the closely armed and tattooed thugs and will get a load of the flowery digs and truly thinks the man was a vintner. Her grandfather’s funeral shortly erupts into a TOTALLY HILARIOUS shootout, and the gig’s up: Organized crime goes on round right here, boy howdy! And hey guess what, Bianca informs Kristin that she, being the one residing inheritor, is now head of the Balbano household, and her first job as Donna Balbano is to barter a ceasefire earlier than the gang battle will get out of hand. So Kristin finds a restaurant with to-die-for gnocchi on Trip Advisor and units up the assembly. Sounds foolproof! And after all, earlier than you already know it, Kristin is grabbing her stiletto heel and Single White Female

-ing a would-be murderer proper within the CROTCH! EYE! CROTCH! EYE! Which is simply too unhealthy, as a result of she hoped to do the EAT! PRAY! F—! stuff first.

Mafia Mamma
Photo: Everett Collection

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Mafia Mamma has all of the broad-comedy strokes of 25-to-40-year-old moronic Hollywood crud – suppose the mafia spoofery of Analyze This crossed with the fish-out-of-water junk of, I dunno, Crocodile Dundee or one thing. Oh, and the title card shamelessly rips off Quentin Tarantino.

Performance Worth Watching: Dim the lights, mild some candles and repeat: Hereditary, The Sixth Sense, Knives Out. Hereditary, The Sixth Sense, Knives Out. Hereditary, The Sixth Sense, Knives Out. Hereditary, The Sixth Sense, Knives Out. (Feel free to throw in Nightmare Alley, Muriel’s Wedding or I’m Thinking of Ending Things to bolster your necromantic hoodoo.)

Memorable Dialogue: Collette is requested to ship the next line with gusto, and it’s a prime instance of the putrescent dialogue this film thinks is humorous: “Your pasta… it’s the best factor I’ve ever had in my mouth.”

Sex and Skin: Nothing past a little mild foreplay.

Our Take: Mafia Mamma makes fingernails on a chalkboard sound like Barry White. When it’s not inundating us with moldy comedy, it’s filling the display with sufficient gore to nip on the heels of The Evil Dead. I believe shopping for Kristin’s well-worn doormat-no-more character arc inside the Cosa-Nostra-via-Betty-Crocker state of affairs requires accepting the movie as satire – though satire must be razor-sharp to be efficient, and this film is boring, determined mush, as tasteless as it’s pointless. 

The movie’s largest downside? There’s no character for Collette to play, so she fills the area with exuberant overcompensation, and Hardwicke by no means tells her to sit back. Kristin is a bundle of affectations given a pile of double-entendres to recite. She chatters and blabbers endlessly, annoying everybody in earshot, from impatient mobsters to cringing movie-watchers, completely clueless that her habits may get her killed by the previous, or ship the latter screaming from the room. Which isn’t to say Collette’s efficiency is miscalculated. No, it’s pitch-perfect with the tone of the film as a complete, whether or not Kristin’s telling anybody who’ll pay attention that she hasn’t had intercourse in three years, or standing by whereas her mafioso bodyguards dismember a physique within the bathtub. The juxtaposition of banality and excessive violence is meant to be humorous, however it’s merely shrill and miscalculated, an try at farce that’s farcical in itself. 

Our Call: Mafia Mamma stinks. Don’t sit there and watch Collette’s goodwill erode in entrance of your very eyes. SKIP IT, and skip it good.  

John Serba is a freelance author and movie critic primarily based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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