Plot: Tony (Jay Mohr) is a top man in the infamous Cortino organized crime family, but he spends most of his time running the Peppermill Casino, one of the mafia’s main sources of income. Also at the top of the family’s food chain is Tony’s father Vincenzo (Lloyd Bridges), who rules with an iron fist and has survived countless assassination attempts, despite his clumsiness. And then there’s his brother Joey (Billy Burke), a total loose cannon with a lot of ambition, but an impulse control problem and all manner of crippling addictions. After Vincenzo is riddled with bullets at his own son’s wedding, Tony vows to settle the score and while his father survived, he plans to make sure the same won’t be true for those responsible. But that is just one of Tony’s concerns, as the casino business has started to fall off, his personal life is in tatters, and a power struggle looms within the Cortino clan. As the tension and ridiculousness rises, can anyone survive and who will seize power in the process?
Entertainment Value: Mafia is an over the top spoof in the vein of The Naked Gun, but aimed at mafia movies, rather than police serials. The end result isn’t up there with The Naked Gun movies, but Mafia does earn a lot of laughs and has some outlandish, memorable sequences. The story borrows from numerous branches of mob cinema, so most of the narrative threads will be familiar, just with absurd humor laced in to poke fun at the genre conventions. The pace of the jokes is rapid fire, if not always a constant barrage like some films of this kind, but rest assured, there are a ton of gags thrown against the wall here. I do think there’s more emphasis on more involved, set piece style jokes, such as the wedding dance, but there are plenty of quick jabs as well, so a nice balance. As you’d expect given the silly tone involved, there is a good deal of over the top, slapstick comedy, pratfalls, and physical gags, as well as some verbal banter than earns some laughs. The humor is solid, but as I said before, not as consistently hilarious as The Naked Gun series, so a fair amount of the jokes fall flat. But the enthusiastic vibe and game cast help make even the lame gags a little funny at least, so all in all, Mafia is a more than solid spoof.
The movie has a sizable, impressive ensemble of talent, with Jay Mohr in what is closest to a central role. He is fine and goes with the material well, but I think he tends to get overshadowed by his costars. This could be because he is the closest thing the movie has to a straight man, but I think Mohr just went a little too rigid, while the rest of the cast embraced the goofiness of the material. I still think he is a capable performer and he is humorous here, even if he doesn’t shine. Lloyd Bridges is great as always and really goes for it in his role, but I have to say the standout is Billy Burke, who just throws himself into the wackiness of the movie. He is a prime example of someone who make even bad jokes retain some entertainment, as he goes for broke and dials up the humor to absurd levels to keep the laughs alive. Burke steals a lot of scenes and to me, is one of the best parts of Mafia. The cast also includes Christina Applegate, Pamela Gidley, Vincent Pastore, and Olympia Dukakis.