Jane Austen's Mafia! [1998]

Genre: Comedy, Crime
This hapless comedy may actually work a lot better on video than it did in theaters. A parody of contemporary mob movies (with a few sidebars skewering such hits as Forrest Gump and The English Patient), Mafia! most closely resembles the first two Godfather films in its generational saga of a gangster family. Lloyd Bridges plays Don Cortino, a native Sicilian who presides over a crime syndicate, and Jay Mohr plays his Michael Corleone-like son. The film is by Jim Abrahams, formerly of the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker directing team (Airplane!, The Naked Gun), single- handedly trotting out the old dumb-joke aesthetic that worked wonderfully a lifetime ago but looks a little creaky in the era of There's Something About Mary. Silly allusions to every crime film (GoodFellas, Casino) produced in the last three decades and featuring at least one wise guy or made man find their way into Mafia!'s gags, but most are arbitrary and shrugged off. The film tanked in theaters for good reason; on the other hand, Mafia! might have a lot more to offer if you're slumped on your own couch at the end of a long day, ready for brain-dead entertainment and absolutely apathetic about comic integrity. Even a film this instantly stale on the big screen might have its place in video posterity. -- Tom Keogh

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