Feb 14, 2015

Review: Mickey Blue Eyes (1999)

Criminal organizations like the American mafia have always intrigued people. At least that's how it is for me because I've always loved crime movies that deal with the mafia. I definitely have nothing to complain about when we get treated to classic movies like The Godfather and Goodfellas. Satire of popular film genres is inevitable though and that's exactly what Mickey Blue Eyes is. It takes a very obviously British guy, puts him with some mafiosos and we get to see what happens next.

My girlfriend happens to be Italian and she's always wanted me to see Mickey Blue Eyes with her. I've got some Scottish/English ancestry on my mom's side of the family and so Hugh Grant's character apparently reminds her of me. I don't know if I should be insulted or not, but either way I suppose a comparison to Hugh Grant isn't all bad right?


Genre: comedy, crime, romance
Directed by: Kelly Makin
Produced by: Elizabeth Hurley, Charles Mulvehill, Karin Smith
Written by: Adam Scheinman, Robert Kuhn
Music by: Basil Poledouris
Running time: 102 minutes
Production company: Castle Rock Entertainment, Polygram Filmed Entertainment, Simian Films
Distributed by: Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, United International Pictures, etc.
Country: United Kingdom, United States
Language: English
Budget: $75,000,000
Box office: $54,264,342 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Hugh Grant, James Caan, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Burt Young, James Fox, Joe Viterelli, Gerry Becker, Maddie Corman, Tony Darrow, Paul Lazar, Vincent Pastore, Frank Pellegrino, Scott Thompson, John Ventimiglia, Margaret Devine, Beatrice Winde, Mark Margolis, Helen Lloyd Breed



Michael Felgate (Hugh Grant) runs Cromwell Auction House and he's been dating Gina Vitale (Jeanne Tripplehorn) for the past few months. He's very much in love with her and decides to go ahead with a proposal. Even though Gina loves Michael, she's unsure about the whole thing and only agrees to marry him if he doesn't take part in her family's criminal activities. Although that appears to be an easy thing to do on the surface, it's not so simple.


If it's not already obvious, Mickey Blue Eyes relies heavily on fish-out-of-water-type comedy. Michael Felgate is the typical English man everyone probably imagines and he's forced to mix it up with stereotypical Italian mobsters. There's definitely some potential here I suppose and I was ready to laugh. I definitely wanted to anyhow.

Unfortunately, the humour doesn't work for the most part and that's a big problem for what is a comedy movie. I'd give Mickey Blue Eyes a 30/70 ratio for jokes that work vs. jokes that don't which really isn't that great. It's not necessarily that the jokes are all bad or something. They're just flat and fail to really get the ball rolling. 

There's one sequence in particular that is quite good and it involves Michael Felgate at a restaurant with some mobsters pretending to also be a mobster himself called Kansas City Little Big Mickey Blue Eyes. This sequence gets about half the laughs of the entire movie, leaving the rest of those hundred or so minutes pretty desolate. 

Hugh Grant does handle himself pretty well though even if the material isn't quite what it could be. I do wish there could have been more James Caan who plays Felgate's father-in-law-to-be because he easily steals a couple of scenes on his own. Burt Young's mob boss schtick does get a little old by the end, but I was also pretty impressed with his performance. 

Who I do want to single out though is Jeanne Tripplehorn as the main love interest. Part of the blame should fall on Kelly Makin's direction I think. I just feel like Tripplehorn was trying a bit too hard. Her performance just seemed way too overblown, especially during the opening twenty minutes or so. Makin should've reigned Tripplehorn in a bit and cut down on the theatrics. Maybe that's what he was going for, but it doesn't work unfortunately. 

Besides the mostly failed Brit meets mafia comedy, Mickey Blue Eyes contains a mostly typical romantic comedy storyline that fails to rouse any feelings either. It's hardly much of a focus even, but it's there. Where this storyline truly fails however is in its resolution that's disappointingly easy and rushed. That probably makes MBE an easy romantic comedy to watch for those who don't care for romantic comedies.

I really did want to like Mickey Blue Eyes. It's a well-casted movie that features some pretty good comedic performances. It's all on the material that lets everyone down. With only a single sequence that is able to generate consistent laughs, that's a big disappointment for a comedy. I still totally like the idea of an English pushover trying to navigate the Mafia world he's been thrust into, but fugetaboutit. Mickey Blue Eyes isn't the movie to get it right.



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