Monday, October 24, 2022

Me and the Mob (USA, 1994)

Frank Rainone's directorial debut was filmed and originally released as Who Do I Gotta Kill?, but we assume it was re-titled somewhere along the way in a desperate mockbuster attempt to ride on the coattails of the older and far more funny hit comedy, Married to the Mob (1988 / trailer). Apples and oranges, to say the least because, unlike the earlier, bigger-budgeted movie, Me and the Mob is pretty short on laughs and entertainment value. We would go so far as to say, as we have said before regarding other films, "We saw it, so you don't have to." 
Trailer to
Me and the Mob:
The DVD we have is had was, of course, plastered large with the name Sandra Bullock and less large with Steve Buscemi, both in tiny parts that were probably shot in a few hours (Buscemi) or a day or two (Bullock). In Buscemi's case, his appearance is one of his typical three-minute "character" appearances that paved his way to name success; indeed, in the film itself, he remains uncredited. For Bullock, the job was probably a rent-paying necessity made prior to her becoming a name with Speed (1994 / trailer) and Demolition Man (1993 / trailer). Her small, relatively insignificant part could really have been played by anyone and is hardly "star" material, but she does her accent well enough and doesn't embarrass herself at all, despite her entire role consisting of little more than what should be an embarrassing pre-stardom sex scene (in sexy, black Frederick's bra and panties, which she never sheds) and a later bar scene in which she is handed money as a take-a-walk rejection (satisfied, she takes the cash and walks out of the movie).
As a NY-made mob comedy, it is hardly surprising that Me and the Mob is chocked full of familiar faces from other mob films: you might not know the names, but you definitely know the faces of many of the Italians on screen. But while the movie is full of great character actors in a variety of roles, the shoulders that carry the movie — as in: the main character — belong to an actor incapable of carrying the weight. As Jimmy Corona, a 30-year-old nebbish writer with writer's block who ends up joining the mob for inspiration, actor James Lorinz (of Frankenhooker [1990 / trailer], Street Trash [1987 / trailer] and Red Lipstick [2000 / trailer]) simply does not have either the presence or capabilities to make his character relatable or to carry the movie. Too often, instead of identifying with the whiney loser, the viewer ends up feeling like he deserves a good whack upside the head and a job at McDonald's.
Me and the Mob improves a tad once Jimmy (Lorinz) visits his uncle Tony (Tony Darrow of Street Trash [1987 / trailer] and innumerable Woody Allen movies), as the two of them do have slight chemistry. But for all their bickering and bonding, Me and the Mob strays too far into the unworkable and capricious and, for the most part, lacks any realistically tinged black comedy or bite that a movie like this one needs to work. (The bit about the end of the police sting operation sort of dips its toes in that direction.)
There is a bit more dryly black comedy whenever the character Billy 'Bink-Bink' Borelli (John Costelloe [8 Nov 1961 – 18 Dec 2008]) shows up, but his sudden conversion at the end of the movie borders on insulting the intelligence of the viewer, which is actually all the more insulted by the slapstick final scene of the movie at a bingo game. But then, many narrative developments are undermined in the movie's attempt to stay feel-good or play for laughs, resulting in a movie that swerves so far into the inane that it annoys.
For example, midway through the movie, there's a mildly humorous scene involving the rub out of a non-character because he slept with the Boss's daughter (Janice Steinmetz). (A scene leading up to it, in which four men argue over masks much the same way the names are argued over in Reservoir Dogs [1992 / trailer], is also one of the funnier ones.) When the Boss finds out that Jimmy is not only a snitch but has likewise doggy-styled his daughter, he wants him rubbed out too — but by the end of the movie, he inexplicably lets both Tony and Jimmy live. (Prizzi's Honor [1985 / trailer], as a counterpoint, at least knew when to let someone be killed.)
That scene, like way too many in the movie, leaves one scratching one's head if not ready to throw something at the TV screen. And thus, the judgment: Yep, we saw it, so you don't have to.

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