Originally titled THE POPE MUST DIE! but re-titled before release due to protests from religious groups, THE POPE MUST DIET! is a crackpot amalgam of KING RALPH and THE GODFATHER PART III.
Following the death of the Pope, the corrupt Monsignor Vitchie (Paul Bartel) and Cardinal Rocco (Alex Rocco) attempt to install as his successor a shill for mob boss and international arms dealer Vittorio Corelli (Herbert Lom). But, due to a clerical error, country priest Guiseppe Albinizi (Robbie
Coltrane)--a reluctant man of god who's more at home playing rock 'n' roll or fixing cars--is named as pope instead. Corelli is livid, but Cardinal Rocco assures him that he will be able to control Albinizi. Before long, however, the new pope uncovers financial chicanery at the Vatican Bank and
cashiers Rocco. Conspiring with Vitchie to find a way of discrediting Albinizi, Rocco bugs the pope's bedroom and discovers that before he became a priest, Albinizi was involved with an American woman, Veronica Dante (Beverly D'Angelo). They had a son who is now a rock star and the lover of
Corelli's young daughter.
Albinizi has been unaware of his son's existence until Veronica appears in the papal bedroom to inform him that the youth is now dying in a hospital--a victim of the wrath of Corelli, who, angered at the boy's relationship with his daughter, had killers plant a bomb under the rock star's trailer.
During the explosion, his daughter was killed, further intensifying Corelli's wrath.
When the truth about Albinizi's past life is revealed, he is forced to resign as pope. When his son dies, however, a furious Albinizi interrupts the ceremony at which the new pope--Corelli--is being installed, and exposes him to the crowd as a gangster and arms dealer. Corelli snaps, shouting and
wildly shooting his gun. A piece of the Sistine Chapel ceiling on which the head of God is painted is dislodged and falls on Corelli, killing him. Albinizi marries Veronica and his beautiful young papal attendant is crowned as the first female Pope.
THE POPE MUST DIET! begins at a feverish satirical pitch that soon degenerates into stupidity. It would have played much better as a parody of THE GODFATHER PART III--at least the assorted shootings, bombings and murders would have seemed a little more in context. As a genial comic hero, Robbie
Coltrane's Father Albinizi is at odds with the tone of the rest of the film. Neither can he muster the joyful comic innocence of John Goodman in KING RALPH. Only veteran screen actor Herbert Lom, playing the film's most unsavory character, rises to the heights of operatic buffonery. In his moment
of epiphany, shooting recklessly into the Sistine Chapel ceiling and roaring, "No more Mr. Nice Pope--back to the good old days," Lom achieves a comic apocalypse in an entirely different class from this dim-witted, mean-spirited film. (Violence, profanity, nudity.)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: Originally titled THE POPE MUST DIE! but re-titled before release due to protests from religious groups, THE POPE MUST DIET! is a crackpot amalgam of KING RALPH and THE GODFATHER PART III. Following the death of the Pope, the corrupt Monsignor Vitchie (Pa… (more)