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Mafia Mamma

It’s rare to get 40 minutes into a film and realize you are watching the worst movie of the year with zero chance at redemption in the remaining hour. Equally appalling is how the multidimensional talent of Toni Collette (“Hereditary,” “The Sixth Sense”) and risk-taking director Catherine Hardwicke (“Twilight,” “Miss Bala“) could produce something at this level of incompetence. It’s the worst type of sitcom mentality combined with the most cliched mob flick you can imagine. If you can call it that, the comedy is that obnoxious, motormouth dialogue where Collette’s character is utterly clueless about everything. Yet the film leans heavily into graphic, cartoon violence, revealing the filmmakers are not quite sure who their target audience is.

Kristin Balbano (Collette), a suburban mom living the not-so-American life, dreams of returning to her Italian birthplace. A phone call from Italy with news that her Italian Mafia Grandfather has passed away coincides with her discovering a cheating husband. As heir to the family business, she throws caution to the wind, seeking new love, adventure, and wine. Instead of landing in a vineyard, she finds herself in a mafia turf war. Unequipped in every way (Kristin hasn’t even seen “The Godfather”), she learns from Balbano’s caretaker Bianca (Bellucci) how to negotiate and utilize her talents and start a new life in Italy, all while fleeing bullets.

Kristin goes from uninspired hair and a JCPenney wardrobe to gorgeous locks and a Gucci wardrobe with barely a mention.

“Mafia Mamma” is a rare film with terrible performances across the board, an amateur script without originality, and no creative insight from the director. It needs to understand what type of movie it’s trying to be. They talk about “Eat Pray Love;” if it were just a woman coming into her own, transforming, and finding her grit, that would be fine. Kristin goes from uninspired hair and a JCPenney wardrobe to gorgeous locks and a Gucci wardrobe with barely a mention. The film overlooks the rest of her transformations as it hurries along to the eyeball squishing and body dismembering. Ok, so you want to do a violent mafia thriller with a female boss? Ok, but as soon as the film settles into that notion, we return to a romance film where she instantly meets an Italian prince charming at the airport.

Mafia Mamma is a level of failure we last saw in pre-pandemic times. It’s not that Collette hasn’t made other bad films in the past. She is a brilliant actress when matched with the right script and challenging directors. However, she is also an actor for hire and has a filmography inundated with paycheck parts. Zero curation to her career might explain that even with performance of the decade type turn in “Hereditary,” she still couldn’t land another Oscar nomination. Without a single redeeming quality, “Mafia Mamma” might be the worst mainstream film released in theaters in 2023.

Final Thought

Who thought combining Under the Tuscan Sun with The Godfather was a good idea?

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