Combustible Celluloid
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With: Michelle Pfeiffer, Matthew Modine, Dean Stockwell, Mercedes Ruehl, Paul Lazar, Alec Baldwin, Joan Cusack, Ellen Foley, O-Lan Jones, Oliver Platt, Nancy Travis, Sister Carol, Tracey Walter, Chris Isaak, Obba Babatunde, Charles Napier, Frank Ferrera, Gary Howard Klar, Gary Goetzman
Written by: Barry Strugatz, Mark R. Burns
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 104
Date: 08/19/1988

Married to the Mob (1988)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Rock Mobster

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After Something Wild and before The Silence of the Lambs, director Jonathan Demme made this fun, romantic crime comedy that still feels fresh today. Michelle Pfieffer stars, quite beautiful, but not relying on her blonde locks, as Angela de Marco. She's the miserable wife of a mafia hitman (Alec Baldwin); when he's killed (for cheating on his wife with the boss's mistress), Angela uses the opportunity to make a fresh start for herself and her son, hopefully in a non-mafia life.

Unfortunately, the boss, Tony "The Tiger" Russo (Dean Stockwell), has killed the two-timing mistress (Nancy Travis) -- yes, I know, that's a lot of two-timing -- and has set his sights on Angela as his new mistress. (He's married to the pushy Mercedes Ruehl.) Angela wants nothing to do with him, but the feds snap a picture of Tony trying to kiss her, and it looks bad. Two FBI agents, Mike (Matthew Modine) and Ed (Oliver Platt), follow Angela to her new run-down apartment and begin to spy on her. Unfortunately, Angela runs into Mike, thinks he's a nice guy and invites him for a date. Meanwhile, Tony doesn't give up so easily.

Demme juggles all these colorful characters, and many more, with a kind of easygoing grace. The movie doesn't feel frenetic or idiotic. None of the activity feels coincidental or forced. Each character gets a distinctive voice, although viewers may be shocked to see how many familiar faces were just starting out here, and whose roles are smaller than you might expect. Stockwell, it should be mentioned, received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor; he plays Tony with a kind of smoothness, and a certain annoyance, but without ever going too big or over the top.

David Byrne's score and selection of pop tunes also help the movie feel vivid and perky, as does Tak Fujimoto's cinematography and the way it uses New York and suburban locations. Married to the Mob was never a major movie, but it's still provides a satisfying evening's enjoyment.

Kino Lobber released the movie on a Blu-ray edition in 2014. The only extra is a trailer.

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