I can hear the Oscars introduction already: a cheesy misadventure featuring accidental deaths, sex-positive messages of female empowerment, and steel legs that ricochet bullets—this is Mafia Mamma. All joking aside, while Mafia Mamma will not win any awards, this comedy is worth its weight in severed fingers for the amount of fun I had with it, along with the obvious enjoyment superstar Toni Collette gets doing these types of roles. She can go from Hereditary to Mafia Mamma in the blink of an eye, and no one should knock her for that. Collette, who also produces, embraces the hip mom crowd with this frequently hilarious “eat, pray, fuck” crime comedy, directed by Catherine Hardwicke.
Already emotional about her son’s imminent departure for college, the last thing Kristin (Collette) expects is to receive a call informing her of her grandfather’s sudden death. Without thinking twice, Kristin leaves her awful cheating husband, Paul (Tim Daish), for Italy. Perhaps the time has come for Kristin to rediscover herself—there’s nothing wrong with morphing this depressing visit into a two-tiered vacation, right? Almost immediately after getting off the plane, Kristin falls into the arms of hunky Italian Lorenzo (Giulio Corso) to the tune of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Cheesy rom-com vibes before the proper movie setup even happens is a low-key kind of genius that certainly pays off deeper into Mafia Mamma.
Learning her grandfather was a winemaker, Kristin faces a serious rude awakening when a huge shootout occurs during his funeral. The wine was just a front: Don Guiseppe Balbano was an iconic mob boss, and he has left his entire empire to his only granddaughter. Don’s dying wish was for Kristin to take over the family business. What does bumbling Kristin know about being a certified “mafia mamma?” Absolutely nothing would seem to be the answer, and yet she manages to thwart murder attempts and power swipes at every turn. Those around her, including Monica Bellucci in a great supporting role, warn of dangerous rivals the Romanos (and spit at their every mention) while in disbelief that Kristin has never even watched The Godfather.
The fun of this movie is watching Toni Collette as Kristin essentially on an extravagant vacation living her best life. Filmed in Italy, Mafia Mamma carries an authenticity with it, and a screenplay by J. Michael Feldman and Debbie Jhoon never takes itself seriously for a second. A mixture of ridiculous shenanigans and gorgeous locales keeps the movie feeling fresh amongst its more ridiculous elements. I found myself laughing out loud several times as Kristin’s situation escalates to preposterous proportions.
As I mentioned before, Mafia Mamma will not be taking home any golden statuettes. Oscar nominee Toni Collette, one of my favorite actresses, will not be receiving a nomination for her ditzy and very hilarious performance here. There is no way to deny what a blast this entire production has been from top to bottom, awards prospects be damned. Sometimes, shutting one’s brain off for a couple hours and just immersing oneself into a ride that includes ass-poison, heel-murder, mob meeting muffins, and ungodly gnocchi-obsession is a welcome distraction. In my heart, Mafia Mamma gets the award for one of the funniest comedies of the year.
Bow down to the Mafia Mamma when the film pops its cork exclusively in theaters on Friday, April 14th.