tek's rating: ¾

Oscar (PG)
Disney Wiki; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; Hulu; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu; YouTube

Caution: spoilers.

This came out in 1991. It's a remake of a 1967 French movie, which itself was based on a stage play. I've never seen the earlier movie or the play, so I can't compare this one to them. But I think I must have seen the 1991 movie on TV sometime in the early 90s. I guess it did poorly at the box office and got mostly negative reviews from critics, but personally I liked it. I'm reviewing it in 2018, after watching it on DVD. Before this, I didn't remember much of anything about it, aside from the fact that Sylvester Stallone played a gangster, and that there were several attractive women in it, and that I found it pretty funny. Still, I was worried that watching it now that I'm older, I might like it less than I remembered. Well, it's hard to say for sure, since I can't recall exactly how much I liked it the first time, but I would guess that if anything, I liked it even more the second time. Honestly, I can't comprehend how anyone could not find this movie very amusing. At least, not if you claim to like the "comedy of errors" genre in general, because I think this is a perfect example of the form. I also don't understand how anyone could find fault with any of the performances; I thought all the actors did great jobs with their roles... considering everything that happens is meant to be ridiculous.

Anyway... it's set in 1931. It begins with mob boss Angelo "Snaps" Provolone (Stallone) going to visit his father, Eduardo (Kirk Douglas), on his deathbed. (Angelo is greeted by his Aunt Rosa, who is played by Yvonne De Carlo, though I didn't recognize her at all.) Angelo asks his father if there's anything he can do for him, and Eduardo makes him promise to give up his life of crime, to which Angelo reluctantly agrees.

One month later, the day has arrived that Angelo has a meeting scheduled with a group of bankers (one of them played by William Atherton), to buy his way onto their board of directors, so he'll have an honest job. They'll be arriving at his mansion at noon, but before that, various other people arrive, and create all sorts of comedic chaos. The first person to show up that morning is Angelo's accountant, Anthony Rossano, who insists the "butler," Aldo (Peter Riegert), wake up Angelo to talk with him about "a matter of life and death." (I should mention that Aldo is one of several gangsters who work for Angelo, all of whom have had to start working in various household staff positions instead of their former criminal jobs, and it's hard for them to get used to that. Aside from Aldo, the only other really important one to the story is Connie, played by Chazz Palminteri.) Anthony tells Angelo that he wants a raise... from $400 a month to $1400, because he's planning to marry a woman who comes from a wealthy family. After Angelo finally agrees to give him $1200 a month, Anthony reveals that the woman he loves is Angelo's daughter. He also reveals that he has embezzled nearly $50,000 from Angelo, in order to give it to his bride, to prove he's not just interested in her money.

Angelo then goes to talk with his daughter, Lisa (Marisa Tomei), who wants to get married so she can finally move away from her parents' house and see the world. And um... the fact that during Angelo's talk with Anthony, Lisa's name was never mentioned, and during his talk with Lisa, Anthony's name was never mentioned, made it pretty predictable that Lisa was actually talking about someone else. What wasn't so predictable was that a woman named Theresa later comes to the house to talk with Angelo, and confesses that she had lied to her boyfriend, Anthony, about being Angelo's daughter. Angelo sees this as an opportunity to trick Anthony into giving him the money he'd stolen, without having to worry about his real daughter marrying him. Meanwhile, there's a pair of tailors named Luigi and Guido Finucci (the latter played by Harry Shearer) who come to the house to fit Angelo with the suit they've made him, but that keeps getting interrupted by other things going on. Also, Angelo's maid, Nora, keeps trying to talk to him, and she eventually she tells him that she's quitting, to marry a man with whom Angelo had previously tried to arrange a marriage to Lisa (who has no interest in an arranged marriage). Nora also advises Lisa to lie to her father and say she's pregnant, so he'll have to let her marry the man she's in love with. But eventually it comes to light that Lisa and Anthony don't know each other, and the man Lisa loves is Angelo's former chauffeur, Oscar, who had recently quit his job to join the Army. So he's not in the picture anymore. And then, Angelo's wife, Sofia, comes home. When she learns that her daughter is pregnant, she insists Angelo find someone to marry Lisa. And eventually, he decides it should be his elocution tutor, Dr. Thornton Poole (Tim Curry), even though he's much older than Lisa, and the two of them barely know each other. Meanwhile, Anthony and Nora both leave the house and return several times, each for different reasons, but it always involves little black suitcases. Eventually, there are three of the cases in play, each containing something different, and various characters getting them mixed up causes a lot of the humor (and chaos) in the story. There's also a priest named Father Clemente (Don Ameche), who comes to Angelo's house for a reason I don't recall (but he's not really important, anyway, just one more person adding to the confusion). And eventually a maid service sends a replacement for Nora, named Roxie (Linda Gray, whom I know from Dallas). She provides a plot twist that I'm absolutely not going to spoil.

Meanwhile, there are police in a building across the street, keeping tabs on all the comings and goings at Angelo's home. A lieutenant named Toomey (Kurtwood Smith) is convinced that "Snaps" isn't really going straight, and he's hoping to find just the right moment to bust him. There's also a rival gangster named Vendetti (Richard Romanus, whom I know best as another gangster, on Johnny Bago) who believes Snaps is planning to form an alliance with another group of gangsters, and he wants to stop that from happening. Things come to a head between all parties shortly after the bankers finally arrive at Angelo's mansion.

And... I'm sure I've gotten some things out of order, and probably forgotten things, in addition to intentionally leaving out some details. I feel like I've said too much, anyway, but I won't say how it all ends. Oh, but I did want to mention that in one early scene with Vendetti, we briefly see his manicurist, who is played by Arleen Sorkin. I loved getting to see her in a live-action role, since I otherwise just know her for voicing Harley Quinn. I just wish her role in the movie would have been bigger. Other than that, I don't know what else to say, except to reiterate how ridiculous and hilarious I found the whole movie.

comedy index