–Arts and letters for the modern age–

Cathode Ray Zone

–Arts and Letters for the Modern Age–

A little Toni Collette goes a long way in Mafia Mamma

by | Apr 13, 2023

A mocking tribute to movies about organized crime, Mafia Mamma wants to be both relevant and sardonic in equal doses. The movie achieves as many chuckles as it does groans.

Collette works out at a gym where the women chant “pray, love, fuck” as their mantra of regeneration. No sooner does she tearfully send her son off to college then she finds her husband having an affair, after she returns home early.

Every heartbreak has a silver lining as Collette finds herself traveling to Italy to attend the funeral of her grandfather, someone she barely knew. Only by now, in this wacky comedy, the reason she was summoned to her native land is to take over the (unknown to her) firm that grandad ruled with an iron hand.

Collette thinks she will mix the trip abroad with a work assignment at her job where she’s constantly ridiculed by male employers.

Catherine Hardwicke, whose films include Thirteen, Twilight and Miss Bala, the last dealing realistically with criminal gangs, displays a mismatched sense of comedy that sometimes works wonders and sometimes plummets to chaos.

Unfunny: Collette frets about wanting to visit the Coliseum, only to be dragged to a meeting as the new head of the family while mugging all the way.

Funny: When rivals try to kill her, she dispatches the assassin with her stiletto shoes, first with a blow to the groin, then to the skull. “We found traces of his scrotum in his eye socket” remarks one of her bodyguards.

Supporting roles are envisioned perfectly including a peg-legged Monica Bellucci as the family consigliere and a mismatched pair of bodyguards who look like weaklings and put half-eaten cannolis in their coat pockets, yet possess superior weapon skills.

Collette soon finds her once frivolous lifestyle has new meaning, plus a fantastic wardrobe, as she takes on a new career path. Collette easily slips between farce and pathos in her portrayal of a woman discovering new facets of her personality.

Being a Mafia Mamma means never having to stoop to a philandering husband or a demeaning workplace.