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IN SHORT: Like striking the comedy motherlode. Delightful. [Rated [PG-13], 102 minutes]
Mickey Blue Eyes hasa gotsa everyting yousa wantsinna Mafia movie...
Waitasec. Backup to the English thing. My femme friends tell me that should read "A well dressed cuddly bunny cute Englishman . . ." 'cuz lightning has struck for the second time this summer; Hugh Grant stars in a great date movie. Here's the secret to Grant -- he's a non-threatening cuddly bunny, a perfect everyman in a strange land; whether it's in the Hollywood star system or the generic Mafia stereotype it makes no difference. He makes men and women laugh. He makes us all happy when he lands the woman he wants. Warm fuzzies all around in most of his flicks; simply great date material.
This time out, Grant is Michael Felgate, an auctioneer at the New York based Cromwell's Auction House. He is madly in love with a school teacher Gina (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and, after three months, is ready to propose marriage. This comes early in the movie -- she's going to say "no", but that's just a comic coda to a scene side splitting enough that, in any other "ordinary" dateflick, it would be enough to make you happy you spent the cash on tickets. Luckily, there's a lot more, and a lot more funny stuff, coming.
Trying to figure out this unpleasant turn of events, Michael tracks down Gina's father Frank Vitale (James Caan), owner of an Italian restaurant called "The La Trattoria". The sight of actor Joseph Vitterelli, you'll know him when you see him, sitting at the bar clues us in to the fact that Michael has never seen a Godfather-style movie in his life. He is not ignorant of The Mob, and his protestations that they will never affect his love or his life to be with Gina are, of course, the cinematic equivalent of spitting in the wind. Which leaves a standard stranger in a strange land premise, always good for a story and, in this case, perfect for a Hugh Grant romantic comedy.
points include money laundering, murder, an FBI sting and the inevitable
bloodbath. Each sets up a series of gags that are increasingly funny.
I don't have to tell you about Grant trying to fake the accent when he's
passed off as a mobster from Kansas City -- it's in the teevee commercial.
The strength of this flick is that, even when you know the joke from the
advertising, there's still plenty left in the flick that tops what you
know. Like I wrote, a motherlode.
Unlike the earlier Mob spoof Analyze This, Mickey Blue Eyes is virtually profanity free. Yes, the Italian Mob stereotype gets shredded for comedy punchlines, making Cranky wonder where the Italian-American Anti-Defamation League is, but Grant allows Adam Scheinmand and Robert Kuhn's screenplay to lob a couple of grenades towards the English as well. You'll know it when you see it.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Mickey Blue Eyes, he would have paid...
Damn fine fun.
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