Michelle Pfeiffer, Matthew Modine, Dean Stockwell; rated R (violence, sex, nudity, profanity, vulgarity); Cineplex Odeon Regency Theater, Cineplex Odeon Trolley Square Theaters, Mann 6 Plaza, UA Fashion Place Mall.
Those who enjoy the low-key, quirky comedy of Jonathan Demme - such as "Melvin and Howard" or last year's "Something Wild" - will probably get a kick out of "Married to the Mob," a gangster comedy that benefits greatly from Demme's special brand of lunacy.It also benefits from some terrific performances, including Matthew Modine, whose comic talents have hitherto been unexplored.
Michelle Pfeiffer actually has the lead role, as Angela DeMarco, a woman who is tired of her husband Frankie's "family" job, which includes bumping off an early morning commuter in the midst of the rush hour when necessary.
So she plots to get away and is unexpectedly given a hand by the head of the mob, Tony "The Tiger" Russo (Dean Stockwell). It seems Frankie has been philandering with Tony's mistress - and one day Frankie is found dead in the Fantasia Motel, along with the mistress.
So Angela gets rid of everything she has received through blood money - which includes her fancy Long Island home and all its contents - and moves with her young son to a rundown tenement on New York's Lower East Side, an apartment that has the bathtub in the kitchen.
There she tries to start a new life without mob connections, but Tony wants her to replace his deceased mistress, and the FBI wants her to help them nail Tony.
Heading up the FBI crew is mild-mannered Mike Downey (Modine), an unflustered agent who at first thinks Angela is Tony's mistress, then comes to realize she is innocent. He also, of course, falls in love with her.
"Married to the Mob" is, in some ways, a less ironic, more innocent "Prizzi's Honor," and, as is director Demme's wont, the film is filled with oddball characters and plenty of little off-the-wall gags (Downey's FBI partner plays with an Etch-A-Sketch during a lull in surveillance, Pfeiffer's son gambles with the neighbor kids, a grieving grandmother dives into her grandson's grave).
Pfeiffer, Modine and Stockwell are all terrific, as are a number of minor supporting players. I couldn't warm up to Mercedes Ruehl as Stockwell's wife, however, though there will doubtless be some who feel her pushy performance is quite funny. I just found her mannered and artificial and the film seemed to lag every time she came on screen. And, oddly, a number of interesting supporting characters seem to get the short shrift (especially after the end credits, under which we see outtakes, unused scenes from the film).
For fans of Demme's work, however, or those who are looking for comedy that's off the beaten path, "Married to the Mob" might fill the bill.
It is rightly rated R for violence, sex, nudity, profanity and vulgarity.