This silly action comedy mixes brilliant production design--it looks like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life--and cloying sentimentality to no good effect. Clearly, the idea was to come up with a holiday perennial like IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, but TRAPPED IN PARADISE is far too crass to
succeed on that level.
When his con-men siblings are released from jail, Bill Firpo (Nicolas Cage) worries that they'll get him mixed up in one of their hare-brained schemes. His instincts prove sound: chronic fibber Dave (Jon Lovitz) and dimwitted kleptomaniac Alvin (Dana Carvey) involve him in a convenience store
theft so they can be sure he'll participate in an out-of-state scam. While in jail, the brothers overheard mafioso Vic Mazzuci's (Vic Manni) plans for the perfect bank heist, and now they want to put them into effect. They tell Bill that their interstate journey is a mercy visit to Sarah Collins
(Madchen Amick), the daughter of a fellow inmate, and the three head off to Paradise, Pennsylvania.
The bungling trio pull off the robbery but arouse the suspicions of Sarah, who is actually Vic Mazzuci's daughter. Not only does this foolproof larceny spur the FBI, headed by Agent Peyser (Richard Jenkins), to investigate, but it also inspires Mazzuci and his capo to break out of the big house.
And on top of everything, the three crooks find themselves unable to revel in their accomplishment, because the people of Paradise are so nice. When their getaway vehicle plunges into a pond, the townspeople rescue them, clothe them, and even give them their Christmas presents.
With the FBI on the prowl, the Firpo escape plan hits another snag when Mazzuci and his cohort kidnap Mrs. Firpo (Florence Stanley) and drive her to Paradise as a bargaining chip. The Firpo brothers commandeer a sleigh (later endangering themselves to rescue the horse), escape from the enraged
Mafiosi and try unsuccessfully to break back into the bank and return the money. They fail, and deposit the dough with the town's reverend. The FBI follows their trail to the home of bank president Clifford Anderson (Donald Moffat), where Mazzuci is holding the Anderson clan and the Firpo family
hostage, and the ensuing stand-off is resolved by the bravery of a local deputy. After re-arresting Mazzuci and his partner, Agent Peyser questions the three bank robbers, but the FBI can't make the case stick because the townspeople have forgiven the Firpos and refuse to press charges. Bill and
Sarah settle down in Paradise, while Alvin and Dave take a bus ride off to future misdemeanors.
Though the premise has at least the potential to be funny, TRAPPED IN PARADISE is an indigestible blend of smart-ass TV sketch comedy and syrupy sentimentality. The village itself is brought to life with loving perfection, but the people of Paradise are stick figures of cloying virtue. In
addition, though the comic stunts are staged with professional acumen, they have no zest--the movie feels less like the work of a director than a traffic cop or stage manager. The script does a poor job of marshalling its various sub-plots, and performances are consistently poor all around.
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: This silly action comedy mixes brilliant production design--it looks like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life--and cloying sentimentality to no good effect. Clearly, the idea was to come up with a holiday perennial like IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, but TRAPP… (more)