Married to the Mob [1988]

Jonathan Demme's last idiosyncratic film before he went all mainstream and "serious" with The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia is a wacky, energetic comedy that looks at mob life with affection, and established Michelle Pfeiffer as both a stunning leading lady and a consummate character actress. When Angela DeMarco (Pfeiffer), fed up with a house filled with furniture and appliances that "fell off a truck," asks her husband, hit man Frank "the Cucumber" (Alec Baldwin), for a divorce, he laughs at her and tells her she'll never escape the mob's clutches. Opportunity arises, though, in the form of Frank's untimely demise, after he's efficiently dispatched by mob head Tony "the Tiger" (Dean Stockwell, in an Oscar-nominated performance) for having an affair with Tony's mistress. Seizing her opportunity, Angela flees Long Island for the city, taking her son and donating all her possessions to Goodwill. Angela thinks she's finally free, but in reality not only does a lovesick Tony have his eye on her, but she's also being spied on by a government agent (Matthew Modine) who thinks she can lead him to the mob boss. Wild and all over the place, Married to the Mob is a genial mess, grounded by Pfeiffer's phenomenal performance, which perfectly mixes comedy and pathos. Her tentative first steps into mob-free life are both comic and touching to watch, whether she's shyly flirting with Modine or fending off the lecherous advances of Stockwell. Mercedes Ruehl, as Tony's big-haired, slightly crazy, put-upon wife, almost steals the show, especially in the film's shoot-'em-up finale, set in Miami and featuring the wonderful Trey Wilson as Modine's FBI boss. The movie is decidedly slack in places, and suffered some damage in the editing room (take a look at the copious outtakes in the film's end credits), but with its high spirits and delightful details, Married to the Mob will definitely make you an offer you can't refuse. --Mark Englehart

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