Saturday, October 2, 2010

RV!: Jane Austen's Mafia! (1998)

RV!: Jane Austen's Mafia! (1998) Dir: Jim Abrahams Date Released: July 1998 Date Seen: May 15, 2010 Rating: 3.25/5

As a child of the '90s, I discovered many of the comedians that made the biggest impression on me when they were past their prime. My first Mel Brooks film was probably Robin Hood: Men in Tights and my first Jim Abrahams flick was probably Jane Austen's Mafia! Both films still make me laugh but the latter is probably the tipping point in the Top Secret! filmmakers' collaborative career. After Mafia!, fans had to recognize that the gonzo satirists that brought them The Naked Gun and Airplane hadn't so much lost it as seriously diluted it. Scary Movie 3 and 4 are both kinda fun but the laughs come in dribs and drabs as opposed to Top Secret! which is top-to-bottom hilarious.

With Mafia! Abrahams and co. start to show their age, which is good and bad. The film's spoofing of films like Goodfellas, Once Upon a Time in America and Casino is seriously dated: the joke about El Nino in the bathroom is really unfortunate, but I love the Macarena gag. I forgive the crotchety humor of parts mostly because while its lack of specificity is indeed grating, I love how ruthless these guys get when they pick on little kids in their movies. The many ways in which they pick on young Vincenzo (Jay Fuchs), the young immigrant boy that grows up to be the film's Godfather, is hilarious, especially the way he's forcibly dragged to the new world at the expense of his budding manhood. Sloppy but endearing in a weird way.

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