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Mickey Blue Eyes

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Mickey Blue Eyes

Starring: Hugh Grant, Jeanne Tripplehorn
Director: Kelly Makin
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 102 Minutes
Release Date: August 1999
Genres: Comedy, Romance

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

Just when you thought that romantic comedies had to be sappy and unbelievable like "Notting Hill" or silly and just plain unfunny like "Runaway Bride," along comes a film that restores your faith in the genre. With a script loaded with sharp lines delivered with punch and direction that paces the material superbly, "Mickey Blue Eyes" proves that even Hollywood's love for scripts about the mob need not be circular-filed as antiquated. Credit "The Godfather" series for allowing a number of riffs about organized crime and a plethora of films winking at the otherwise deadly serious game of mob rule. "Mickey Blue Eyes" may just be the perfectly ripe pick of the harvest given the strong performances of Hugh Grant in his best role to date and the great James Caan in yet another confirmation of his distinguished thespian craftsmanship.

The comic whirls flow from a proposed marriage between two people who are about as different in their cultural backgrounds as Papuans from Episcopalians--in the efforts of one of the pair to fashion himself into the society of the other. Hugh Grant performs once again in the role of a proper Englishman of high breeding. In this case he is the auctioneer of a posh, Sotheby-style house which sells paintings that are not quite in the class as the million-dollar works hawked in the Duval's House of Francois Girard's movie "The Red Violin," but which are peddled to the connoisseurs and investors alike in a Fifth Avenue property in Manhattan. Screenwriters Adam Scheinman and Robert Kuhn start the gags rolling from the very beginning as the dignified Mr. Felgate pronounces an oil painting of a buxom reclining person "Woman with Massive Bottom." When a client bids $23,000, he determines that this comes to "$11,500 per buttock" to the amusement of the crowd. Perhaps the sight-gag highlight of the film comes in a Chinese restaurant as Michael proposes to his girl friend, Gina Vitale (Jeanne Tripplehorn) after arranging with the owner to stuff a fortune of his choosing into her cookie.

Gina rebuffs the poor guy because she is actually a mob princess, daughter of crime lord Frank Vitale (James Caan) and niece to godfather Vito Graziosi (Burt Young) and does not want Michael to become involved with the wiseguys. The proper young Englishman is then even more determined to fit in with the gangsters, to become like them while somehow keeping his hands clean.

One of gags is positively surreal, even perhaps a riff on some of the junk that art collectors buy purely in the hope of selling at a profit years later. The jest involves a painting done by the son of a mobster featuring an airbound Jesus mowing down an enemy with an Uzi, a monstrosity that somehow is sold for $130,000. What gives Hugh Grant the latitude to turn in a smashing performances involves the many ways he tries to prove to the shady characters that make up his beloved's greater family that he's one of them-- even to the extent to muffling his king's English to say "fuhgeddaboudit" to pass himself off as Little Big Mickey Blue Eyes form Kansas City. In one scene he executes a striptease to distract Gina from evidence linking him with the mob. To gain credibility with the mob he is obliged, in another scene, to rough up his auction-house boss, the even more proper Brit played by the inimitable James Fox.

The action comes to an anarchic conclusion filmed at that celebrated wedding factory, Leonard's of Great Neck, in which the FBI unfolds an intricate plot to arrest the crime boss, Uncle Vito--who is determined to have Michael killed at his own nuptials.

"Mickey Blue-Eyes" features a sound track of bouncy Italian music, particularly Bob Merrill's rousing "Mambo Italiano" and is brightly filmed to best show off New York's color and ambience. The only way this splashy show could have been made even more spectacular would have been to cast Annabella Sciorra as the bride-to-be instead of the insipid Jeanne Tripplehorn.

Copyright 2000 Harvey Karten

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