‘Mafia Mamma’ Brings Laughs but Also Rom-Com Baggage

Ulises Duenas


There’s no shortage of romantic comedies, but I can’t think of any that blend in as much violence as “Mafia Mamma.” The film has a good amount of jokes that land and yet it still grapples with tired tropes, a muddled tone, and a script that’s too long for its own good.


Toni Collette plays Kristen, a woman living in the suburbs who suddenly becomes the heir to a mafia empire in Italy. With her son off to college and her husband cheating on her, she decides to go to Rome in an attempt to get some passion back in her life.



It takes a while for the movie to get going, but once Kristen is in Italy, the humor starts to pick up. Collette has a good sense of comedic timing and the supporting characters do a good job of keeping the movie light and charming. The downside is the humor constantly clashes with the romantic elements, which feel like they were pulled out of a novel you’d find at the airport. 


As soon as Kristen arrives in Italy, she’s swept off her feet by a handsome Italian stranger. The don of the rival mafia family looks like he’s out of a cologne ad, and their scene with Kristen make the movie feel like a stereotypical rom-com. It goes hand in hand with the film’s heavy-handed script that demands you recognize Kristen’s plight as a middle-aged woman. 



Like many characters, Kristen’s arc involves her realizing that she needs to stop putting everyone’s needs above her own or she’ll never be happy. She also has to deal with cartoonishly piggish men at her job who are so lacking in subtlety that they might as well look at the camera and say, “We’re sexist men who only value youth and beauty in women, get it?”  The shame is that if those elements were cut or toned down, there would still be a good amount of substance to the film, but altogether it makes for a mixed bag that, like many other movies, doesn’t trust its audience to gather the message themselves.


There’s also a surprising amount of violence and gore that makes the film earn its R rating. One scene involves Kristen killing a hitman by continuously gouging him until he dies. There’s one part of the scene that might make the audience cringe due to the graphic nature, but it helps keep the movie from feeling too “samey” if nothing else. The direction and stunts involved are better than one would expect.


If someone shaved roughly 30 minutes from the runtime of “Mafia Mamma,” you’d likely have a better movie. The third act drags a lot and adds twists that don’t add much to the story. “Mafia Mamma” is much better than your typical romantic comedy, but it still has problems that plague the genre.


Author Bio:

Ulises Duenas is a senior writer at Highbrow Magazine.


For Highbrow Magazine


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