Danny Aiello seems to become appropriately embarrassed as the film goes on.     


An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

            It’s hard to believe another movie will beat “Mail Order Bride” for worst movie of 2003.  This miserable offering may well nudge “8 Heads in a Duffel Bag (1997) out of first place for the decade.  Unfortunately, one man, Robert Capelli Jr. is in line for the blame since his name is listed as co-director, co-writer and lead actor.  He fails in all three categories. 

                Inexplicably, Danny Aiello was persuaded to sign on as a kind of anchor in the madness.  Aiello plays Mafia boss Uncle Tony to his nephew Anthony Santini (Mr. Capelli).  A kid with few brains and no street smarts, Anthony messes up one assignment after another.  When Uncle Tony discovers that he must send someone to Russia to retrieve money scammed from a “family” man by a Russian moll posing as a mail order bride, he decides to unload Anthony, the family nuisance, on Russia.  “Find the broad and bring back the money!”

                Anthony becomes fast friends with Ivan (Slava Schoot), son of the reigning Russian gangster.  Ivan is a nincompoop assigned to take care of Anthony while he searches for the woman he has already fallen in love without knowing she is his target.  That’s the plot.  So deadened will you be by credit time that you won’t remember even the ending during the walk to your car.

                If this was intended as a parody of the Italian and Russian mafias, or as a cross-cultural clash between gangsters, or as a family comedy hoping to follow “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” none of it works.  The Russian son and the American nephew are inept and embarrassing both as characters and as actors.  And you, the audience, must spend the entire time watching scenes of the two getting drunk, passing out, and lap dancing.

Between drunk scenes we watch foot chases and car chases, never sure who is after who.  You will not remember a scene of a Russian doctor with flyaway hair who puts on a fur hat with flyaway earflaps and performs a bullet removal with a box cutter while slurping vodka.  You will see a pie in the face, a bar fight started by one punch, breakaway tables flying across the room.  Every scene is a cliché so old that it seems to date back to Westerns of the silent film era. 

The acting?  Danny Aiello seems to become appropriately embarrassed as the film goes on.  There is no explanation for his presence here – unless he is helping a needy relative.  Neither Slava Schoot nor Robert Capelli Jr. has an ounce of talent for slapstick comedy.  Looking hard for any ray of light in the supporting cast, you are not likely to find one.  It is mean to savage any film project if people are trying hard, but this one is an avoidable insult.  If you are very, very lucky, this movie will not come to a multiplex near you. 

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