Mar 22, 2014

Review: Jane Austen's Mafia! (1998)

Just to preface this, I'm really not a fan of spoofs. Comedy is subjective, but really nailing a spoof is extremely difficult if you ask me and Jane Austen's Mafia! is so far off the mark. It's attempting to spoof basically every well known film centered around Italians like The Godfather, Casino, and Scarface (who's main character is actually Cuban).

Not only are they spoofing Italian themed movies, but basically any popular movies that have come out. Spoofing isn't really the right word to use. These jokes are barely jokes at all; they're non-jokes. They're more like references that should make you chuckle because you've seen that movie. You must get it since you've seen it. Right? Haven't seen the movie? Oh well, better watch that movie.

These kinds of jokes are one of the banes of my film watching obsession. They're NOT FUNNY. They make up the foundation of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer films, guilty of bringing us Date Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie and other Movies. A short list of these "jokes" in Jane Austen's Mafia! include E.T., Jurassic Park, and Chucky. There are many more for your amusement.

We got the typical jokes as you'd expect in a second-rate comedy such as this. There's a real richness in fart jokes and even an excessive vomiting scene. However, there are some jokes that really stretch my ability to suspend my disbelief. For example, a man gets shot and his wife just thinks he's drunk because she didn't hear the gunshot a few feet away while there are people panicking all around her. Am I digging too deep? Maybe, but make the joke at least semi-believable.

There was actually one thing about this movie that I found amusing and I don't really know why. During a parade, there's a half-green and half-black olive mascot that looks like Mr. Peanut from the Planters brand that made me exhale more air from my nostrils than usual. He's never very prominently shown; he's in the back behind the action and I saw him by chance I guess but man is he amusing. It's a lucky shot in a failed comedy.

It's hard to admit this, but I've never actually seen Airplane! which was in part directed by Jim Abrahams, director of this gem. Jane Austen's Mafia! was definitely an attempt to ride the coattails of  past success and it's totally failed. While it is at least a small step up over Disaster Movie and its ilk, the only true positive I get out of this movie is Mr. Olive.


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