Presumably, a hit had been placed on whichever poor soul was tasked with convincing Toni Collette to star in Mafia Mamma. Cross the Rubicon, teen drama lovers to wine moms. The cycle is as the cycle does. Only one person can marry the pairing. The Queen of the Twilight franchise, the woman who pushed it too far. So far the author of Twilight had to step in. “Get off my Latter-Day saints, Baby Mama-inspired books you swine,” she likely, probably, said. Amazing what money can do. From the surfs of Venice Beach to the pale skin of Robert Pattinson to a nightmare construction which throws tomatoes and terror across the sun-kissed cobbles of some nondescript area. Suburbia is so horrid the chance to inherit a mafioso family is seen as a comedic release.
Play it up, fire it out. It’ll work well enough with enough conviction, which nobody involved in Mafia Mamma has. “You’re spiralling,” Kristin (Colette)’s son says to his mother. Not everyone is given an outlet for their grief and is given the support of the mafia, but here we are. Mafia Mamma is given the chance to work her grief and rage not through punching black bags in a gym but to fly on out to Italy and reinvent themselves. Sometimes this is needed. Four minutes from fighting in a gym and having her life in tatters, Kristin is in Rome attending a funeral. In that time though you can crack open your second bottle of wine. At a rate of a bottle every eight minutes, you can be flat out before the half-hour mark and not have to watch any more of Mafia Mamma.
Bubbly American optimism meets grieving Italian traditionalism. Trade your Starbucks for some panettone. Give your sugar bread to the border patrol and take up focaccia in the arms of grieving for the death of comedy. It gets closer every year and Mafia Mamma excels in bringing a final curtain to laughter. Gunfights and gangly bits of mafioso boredom struggle to maintain themselves in a feature which feels more akin to Nicky Deuce than anything monumental or hilarious. Screaming faces sprint down Italian streets as leather-clad bikers and oranges sway after them. All the usual caricatures are played with little fanfare. Dumb duos, sexually repressed revenge and all-black attire for the accidentally powerful family pondering what to do now their respective Godfather has died.
“Those who want respect, give respect, and also do not watch Mafia Mamma,” as Tony Soprano almost said. Toni Collette has done more than enough to enjoy herself in features which require little dedication. But no dedication? This is different. All roads lead to a dull court case tie-up as though Goodfellas were not the King of this. Character arcs are always interesting, except for when they become accidental and stumbled upon. Collette never convinces of this everyday suburban woman heading to the top of a crime mountain not because she has not have the conviction for it but because the blocks Hardwicke puts in place are abysmal and feel as though they are playing fast and loose with every set piece of the mob movie. Is it satire? Gore exploration? Neither. It is one of the worst comedies in recent memory.