As we zoom in on this so-perfect-it-must-be-a-set vision of suburbia, we see an unlikely new neighbor: gangster Vincent Antonelli (Steve Martin). Vinnie, with his spiky black hair, shiny suits and New York accent, is not here by choice; he's a mob informant who's been plunked down in this
land of barbecue grills and picket fences as part of the government's witness relocation program. FBI agent Barney Coopersmith (Rick Moranis) is in charge of Vinnie, and must ensure that the gangster stays out of trouble until he can testify at two important mob trials in New York. But Vinnie
still can't resist swiping the occasional car or ripping off a supermarket here and there, which brings him to the attention of District Attorney Hannah Stubbs (Joan Cusack). Hannah refuses to be won over by the charming though conniving Vinnie and is even less amused when Barney informs her that
as a government-protected witness Vinnie cannot be prosecuted for his crimes. To further complicate matters, Vinnie has also encountered a number of his old Mafia pals, all of whom are apparently living in the same suburb under assumed names. Naturally, this gang plans a new crime spree. But
thanks to his quick thinking and cunning, Vinnie outwits both Stubbs and the gunmen who are after him, and by the time the film ends he's a local hero, with a Little League stadium named after him, and a couple of wives and girlfriends to boot.
For a film with as many missed plot opportunities as this one, MY BLUE HEAVEN is actually fairly amusing. The notion of a gangster adjusting to anonymity in suburbia is funny, but the film pays scant attention to this idea; instead, MY BLUE HEAVEN is really about Vinnie and Barney and their
differing ideas of law and order. Still, the film manages to work about two-thirds of the time, largely due to the efforts of the cast. Moranis is well-suited to his role as the repressed Barney, and Cusack, like a high-school teacher from hell, with her pulled-back hair and stern, unflinching
demeanor is wonderful as Hannah. (She's also one of the few actresses whose look can change from goofy to striking within a single film.) As Moranis's partner, performance artist Bill Irwin gets to show off his unique dance style; however, Carol Kane is wasted, given only about five lines as a
woman Vinnie picks up in a supermarket and marries a few scenes later. As for Martin, he may not be the most likely actor for the part of Vinnie, but his exaggerated mannerisms aren't that out of place in a film that's basically an extended sketch. Although the script seems to lose track of the
story in the second half of the film, when the plot is stretched a little thin, for the most part, this is an amiable comedy with some unexpected laughs.
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- Released: 1990
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: As we zoom in on this so-perfect-it-must-be-a-set vision of suburbia, we see an unlikely new neighbor: gangster Vincent Antonelli (Steve Martin). Vinnie, with his spiky black hair, shiny suits and New York accent, is not here by choice; he's a mob informan… (more)