Thursday, April 13, 2023

Bob's Cinema Diary April 14: 'Cherry' and 'Mafia Mamma'


A couple  of weeks ago Cherry, a movie about a 25-year-old woman facing a difficult choice, might not have been acutely topical. But recent court decisions have put the future of abortion pills in doubt and given the movie an unexpected jolt. Maybe not directly, but in its well-observed approach to Cherry (Alex Trewhitt), an unsettled Los Angeles woman who learns that she is 10 weeks pregnant. Cherry has 24 hours to decide on whether to use the pill. If not, California law will require that she wait and have a surgical abortion. Of course, Cherry also can opt to have the baby. It's clear from the outset that Cherry, who works in a thrift store and is devoted to roller skating, isn't prepared for parenthood. Trewhitt gives a convincing performance as an addled young woman who can't bring herself to talk about her situation with her mother, sister, or father. She discusses it with her boyfriend, but he immediately balks at the idea of parenthood. With no guidance forthcoming, Cherry must confront her situation alone. Director Sophie Galibert keeps the tone light but not so light that the seriousness of the issue is lost. Yes, choice can be difficult, but Cherry fortunately has a choice to make: The movie makes you wonder what would have happened had that not been the case.

Mafia Mamma

A mafia comedy with a scenic Italian backdrop. What's not to like? Well, an awful lot about director Catherine Hardwicke's misguided Mafia Mamma, a farcical look at a harried American mom who inherits the leadership of a famous mafia family. In an effort to poke fun at mob-movie cliches, Hawdwicke replaces them with comedy cliches, the most notable being a fish-out-of-water scenario with Toni Collette working hard to turn Kristin Balbano into a woman who’s woefully ignorant about mob tactics. She hasn’t even seen The Godfather, an immediate strike against her, not to mention the source of a few  lame jokes. After Kristin arrives in Italy for her grandfather’s funeral, she receives help from Monica Bellucci, the secretary who served the recently deceased Don. Conflict, of course, arises. The Balbanos feud and fight with the Romanos, another mob family. The movie dines on cliches and stereotypes without giving them enough comic punch to knock them onto fresh turf. Recently separated, Kristin is a horny boss who grows into a crime role that the movie ultimately launders. The movie’s major accomplishment: It may make you hungry for gnocchi, a delight that Kristin craves soon after landing in Italy.

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