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IN SHORT: Airplane does Casino...
...though the movie logo looks more like The Godfather (parts I and II), which is also heavily parodied. So is Twister, Il Postino, Babe, Air Bud, ET The Extraterrestrial, Jaws, Goodfellas, Child's Play, Nightmare on Elm Street, Forrest Gump, Cocktail and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. And maybe a bit of Striptease, and other films I didn't recognize, too.
A fortnight back, Cranky was flamed viciously by a reader who, essentially, called him to task for writing that dog abuse was funny (in his review of There's Something About Mary). That reader will be pleased to read that no dog was abused at anytime in the very funny mafia! But, oh, what they did to the donkey. And the cat. Only the lawyers know what else we would have seen had this flick kept its original title, "Jane Austen's Mafia".
Jane Austen, of course, is dead, and her estate obviously has no sense of humor. Star Lloyd Bridges, who is also dead, goes out with a bang, more precisely 47 of them, in his fourth journey into the world of parody with writer/director Jim Abrahams. This time out, Bridges plays the clumsy but powerful head of an organized crime family, which rules Las Vegas by running crooked games of "Go Fish" and "What Number Am I Thinking Of?" and operating slot machine games which warn players to "Kiss Your Money Goodbye" and "Lose Your Shirt."
The saga of Don Vincenzo Armani Windbreaker Cortino (Bridges) begins far across the ocean in the town of Salmonella, Italy. You can tell you're in a foreign land because there are subtitles on the movie screen. The son of a postman, young Don (sic) must swim for his life when the local godfather marks him for death and the nearest boat for America leaves without him. The script quickly tears through all the movies listed above, tossing un-PC gags everywhere. Fast and furious, from every direction. Just the way Cranky likes it.
Rather than keeping all the jokes below the belt (though when the Las Vegas bound script jokes about "crap" they really mean it) mafia! nails three jokes to every page and hides half a dozen more among the end title credits. Cranky's filling space here, people, 'Cuz he's not about to give away the jokes. The best advice he can give you, though, is "don't blink." If you blink too much, you'll miss some good gags 'cuz this flick plays with your head as much as it does with your funny bone.
To match the parody, Jay Mohr takes the place of Al Pacino, with Christina Applegate as his Diane Keaton. The best gag of all gets whipped out by Billy (not Billie) Burke, in the James Caan role. It's so funny that Abrahams (and co scriptors Greg Norberg & Michael McManus) find a way to tell it twice.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Mafia!, he would have paid . . .
But he didn't have to, 'cuz he got to see it for free.
Seriously, folks, this is Abrahams' best work in a long time. Just about the time the gags start to get tired, the flick ends. Cranky wasn't kidding about the gags buried in the end credits, which reveal amazing, previously unknown Fun Facts about stars Mohr and Applegate. All this, and your horoscope, too.
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