Mafia Mamma starring Toni Collette and Monica Bellucci, follows the escapades of ditzy American suburban mum Kristin, unwittingly thrust into the bumbling world of Italian gangster vendettas.
No Godfather or Goodfellas this one, its more a giggly-gruesome lampoon of every cliché ever foisted upon us by a century of La Cosa Nostra movies.
It should gratify those with an advanced fervour for the absurd, and a strong stomach, who like their mobsters mocked and mangled.
Things kick off when advertising writer Kristin (Collette) gets an unexpected call from Italy. On the other end of the line is the mysterious Bianca (Bellucci), who insists the working mom fly to Italy, pronto, because her estranged grandfather has croaked.
At the time Kristin is dealing with her son leaving for college (a traumatic ordeal for helicopter mammas), a flippant and sexist boss at the agency, and a husband who she has just sprung in flagrante in the basement with a younger woman.
These incentives not withstanding, she needs convincing to leave for Italia. This comes courtesy of her bolshie bestie, lawyer Jenny (Sophia Nomvete), who she meets for combat class workouts. Jenny says she must go and live her life, and her uncouth chanted entreaties as she jabs the heavy bag is enough to induce Kristin to flit off to nonno’s funeral.
Outside the Rome airport, it’s instant amore when she fleetingly meets an affable Adonis (Giulio Corso) in the taxi rank (very much in keeping with the Grand Tour formula of foreign woman seeking romance in Italy), before being whisked away by bodyguards to gramps’s palatial home.
The ensuing funeral soon turns into a raging firefight between two mafia clans. It’s here the sultry mob consigliere Bianca breaks the news to Kristin that her grandpa was not really a humble vigneron, but the godfather of a powerful Mafia family.
She also discovers that he wished for her, his last living descendant, to assume the role of boss of his mafia empire.
Hence we watch on as an initially reluctant Kristin assumes the role of a Don in Dolce & Gabbana, and starts to deal with enemy bosses and hit men with extreme prejudice, albeit unwittingly.
At one point, she applies her combat class skills to a hapless assassin by repeatedly burying a high heel in his family jewels and sending his eyeball rolling across the floor. Rather grisly fodder for such a cheery Latin romp.
The plot thickens as Numero Uno Kristin rescues the family business (even turning the family’s vin ordinaire into a fine, saleable drop) and starts to gain the grudging respect of the vicious rival clan.
But as with all things mafioso, there are underlying resentments and jealousies at work, things are not as they seem, both internally and externally, and the mafia mistress must steer her family through increasingly silly imbroglios towards a decidedly welcome finale.
Peppered with mob movie clichés and slapstick scenes, oddly crude lines and farcical violence, a formulaic and steadily disintegrating plot, Mafia Mamma is a mezza mezza comedy at best.
It is mercifully sustained at times by some charming Italian location shots and the occasional sequence of good comedic action from our very own Toni.
Otherwise, it’s enough to have Vito Corleone spinning in his grave like a lathe.
Watch the trailer…