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[whitespace] Mafia!
Bored of the Dance: Paulie Orsatti manages to send up the wrong ethnicity in the new Mob spoof 'Mafia!,' opening valleywide.

Inept 'Mafia!' comedy mocks a tired genre

By Richard von Busack

STRANGELY ENOUGH, the best parodies in the new scattershot revue Mafia! are takeoffs not of the three Godfather movies but of three other films. In a generic Lifetime-channel movie, Christina Applegate stars as the president of the United States, and T.J. Cannata plays the lisping child who reminds her what a woman's duty really is. In another sequence, Pamela Gidley roasts the exotic-dance scene from Showgirls--her Pepper Gianini is such a sex tigress that she bites a chunk out of the brass pole. (Director Jim Abrahams' perfunctory treatment of Gidley is blindness; she ought to be the next Stella Stevens.) A third superlative scene mocks the burn makeup in The English Patient with maximum grossness--and it's about time.

Unfortunately, Abrahams' version of the famous opening sequence of The Godfather is inept compared to two other memorable send-ups from years past: Marlon Brando's affectionate lampoon of Don Corleone in 1990's The Freshman; and SCTV's Joe Flaherty as Guy Caballero receiving Floyd the Barber (remember Eugene Levy's brutal imitation of the feeble actor Don McNear of The Andy Griffith Show?). The late Lloyd Bridges as "Don Cortino" isn't adept enough for the physical comedy, and his enunciation is off; Bridges was trying to copy Brando's rumble, but he just sounds mush-mouthed. Trying to undercut the lowness of the current crop of low comedy seems heartless when using elderly actors: Olympia Dukakis, about to kill a Mafia rival with a jumbo fart, says, "It's just business." Maybe she's apologizing to the audience.

Mafia! (PG-13; min), directed by Jim Abrahams, written by Greg Norberg, Michael McManus and Abrahams, photographed by Pierre Latarte and starring Lloyd Bridges and Olympia Dukakis.

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From the July 30-Aug. 5, 1998 issue of Metro.

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