Job by Alexis Lebrun November 16, 2021
When the feature film directed by Harold Ramis came out in 1999, the sacred monster of American cinema was 56 years old, and he has been in top form for nearly three decades, performing major dramatic roles. But with MAFIA BLUES, he nevertheless decides to take his fans on the wrong foot and reveals to the general public that he also has a gift for comedy, by making fun of his most famous roles.
This is not THE SOPRANOS
We know it since the first appearance of James Gandolfini in the series of David Chase: the gangsters also have the right to have existential questions. Coincidence or not, the first episode of SOPRANO (OCS) aired two months before MAFIA BLUES was released, but the overwhelming shadow of HBO’s serial masterpiece doesn’t detract from the qualities of Harold Ramis’ film. . We find Robert De Niro in a role he knows by heart, that of a dangerous godfather of the New York mafia. Yes, but this time, there is a major change: the character he plays (Paul Vitti) is only a shadow of himself, because he suffers – among other things – from panic attacks and does not arrive more in controlling his emotions in certain situations. As luck does things well, his path crosses that of Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal), a small psychiatrist who is bored to death in his consultations and suffers from the comparison with his father.
We have to imagine the sequel, a Robert De Niro torn between bursts of violence and emotion, terrifying the poor shrink who would like to live long enough to succeed in his marriage to Laura, played by the hilarious Lisa Kudrow, escaped from the FRIENDS series (David Crane and Marta Kauffman). The cast of the film is what makes it so timeless today: Billy Crystal is far too funny in the role of the scared shrink, Joe Viterelli is perfect as a henchman, half reassuring, half threatening, and what to say of the boss Robert De Niro, who parodies with joyful self-mockery the very serious and dangerous mafia that he played in THE GODFATHER II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974) or THE AFFRANCHIS (Martin Scorsese, 1990). This success will also generate a sequel released in 2002 (MAFIA BLUES 2), still directed by Harold Ramis, and where we find the same actors in even more absurd situations, with a brilliant nod to SOPRANO since the character played by De Niro finds himself working for a series on the world of the mafia …
Robert De Niro and comedy, a contrasting marriage
Since the American actor changed his register in the early 2000s after MAFIA BLUES, everyone agrees that his filmography is a little more bumpy than in the past. The actor knows that he has nothing more to prove in Hollywood and decides to have fun in comedies sometimes very far from his great roles, and this choice should not be considered as shameful. Having said that, let’s also admit that there is food and drink in these comedies. While everything started well with MY STEP FATHER AND ME (Jay Roach, 2000), the success of which spawned two sequels, there were also a number of disasters, including the duo formed with Eddie Murphy in SHOWTIME ( Tom Dey, 2002). But if the 2000s were sometimes very difficult for Robert De Niro, he fortunately succeeded in raising the bar in the following decade in the company of Jennifer Lawrence in two charming films by David O. Russell, HAPPINESS THERAPY (2012) and JOY (2015).
The same can be said of the unpleasant step of THE NEW INTERN (Nancy Meyers, 2015), where De Niro embraces his new label of septuagenarian with a certain sobriety, which does not prevent him from plunging again the following year with the awful DIRTY PAPY (Dan Mazer) then the mouthwatering little MY GRANDFATHER AND ME (Tim Hill), released last year. But that fans of the serious Robert be reassured: the year 2019 marked his return to ambitious and Oscar-winning dramas – with THE IRISHMAN (Martin Scorsese) but also JOKER (Todd Philips) – and he should be showing in several films. major next year, signed by names as prestigious as Martin Scorsese, David O. Russell or James Gray. It looks like Robert has finished laughing, but we wouldn’t be against a little MAFIA BLUES 3, just to remind everyone that he is also a great comic talent.
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MAFIA BLUES, the film that started Robert De Niro’s comic turn | myCANAL