by George Wolf
So a suburban L.A. mom named Kristin (Toni Collette) is handpicked to be the new boss of a mafia family in Italy? Man, that’s crazy. How’d that happen?
“They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
It’s actually surprising Kristin doesn’t say that in Mafia Mamma, a film that’s built on exactly that same type of obvious, forced humor.
Kristin has barely had to time to cry about her son leaving for college when she catches her husband Paul (Tim Daisch) in the act with a younger woman. Then, while her head is spinning about the future of her marriage, Kirstin hears from the mysterious Bianca (Monica Belluci).
Turns out Kristin’s estranged grandfather was head of the Balbano crime family, and was just assassinated by the rival Romano clan. But Kristin (maiden name: Balbano) is only told grandpa is dead, and she must come to Italy to settle his affairs.
As Jenny (Sophia Nomvete), the oversexed best friend (c’mon, you knew there’d be an oversexed best friend) implores Kristin to have an “Eat, pray, f@#k” vacation, she’s quickly juggling suave suitors and surprising truths.
Bianca was General for Don Guiseppe Balbano (Alessandro Bressanello), and she’s committed to carrying out the Don’s last order: that Kristin take over the family.
Fish-out-of-water hijinx ensue, with director Catherine Hardwicke weakly juggling the mob tropes amid some well-intentioned but heavy handed reminders about how workplace culture disrespects aging women.
Collette is likable as always, and Belucci is smoldering as always, but the script they’re given can’t rise above the TV backgrounds of the writing team. Convoluted, nonsensical and never more than mildly amusing, Mafia Mamma is about as lively as Luca Brasi.