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Toni Collete's charm barely saves the routine Mafia Mamma

Academy Award nominee Toni Collete has an offer she can't refuse in the new comedy Mafia Mamma from Bleeker Street. Catherine Hardwicke directs the film from a screenplay by Michael J. Feldman and Debbie Jhoon, based on an original story by Amanda Sthers.

Kristin (Collete), a middle-aged writer, finds herself in an array of troubles - her son is moving away to college, her boss has been increasingly sexist, and she discovers that her husband Paul (Tim Dash) is not faithful. Desperate for a change, Kristin receives a call from Bianca (Monica Bellucci), the advisor of Kristin's estranged grandfather, who recently died, saying that Kristin must travel to Italy for the funeral. Still determining if this is what she needs, Kristin takes the plunge with her friend Jenny's (Sophia Nomvete) bold words encouraging her to follow through.

Little does she know how much this trip would change her life - when violence erupts at the funeral, it turns out that due to his last will and testament, Kristin is chosen as the new leader of Calabria's most powerful Mafia family! In spite of all odds against her, can Kristen take on this challenge and make something good out of it? It may sound implausible, but it works surprisingly well.

The fabulous Toni Collette - who I've been a fan of ever since her acting debut in Muriel's Wedding - gives an entertaining, touching, and cheerful performance that you can't help but get swept up in. I. Monica Bellucci perfectly plays Bianca and bounces off Collette brilliantly as she looks stunning.

Of course, the movie also contains all the classic ingredients of this kind of story, from hilarious moments like Kristin asking, "Is that a cannoli in your pocket?" or when someone comments on her spinsterish outfit, saying, "You look like a librarian from a library... and not a porno". And the loyal best friend back home is Jenny (with winsome joy by Sophia Nomvete), whose presence will prove invaluable later in the movie. All these elements come together to create something fun.

Most critics have given Mafia Mamma a critical bashing, and I'm sure it will come and go in theaters. However, this is a harmless time waster of a woman bravely rising against gendered injustice and an outdated, male-centric system. Despite being predictable in many respects, it's worth a matinee!

Final Grade: C

Mafia Mamma is in theaters now.


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