SPIKE OF BENSONHURST (director/writer: Paul Morrissey; screenwriter: Alan Bowne/based on a story by Paul Morrissey; cinematographer: Steven Fierberg; editor: Stan Salfas; music: Coati Mundi; cast: Sasha Mitchell (Spike Fumo), Maria Pitillo (Angel), Ernest Borgnine (Baldo Cacetti), Talisa Soto (India), Sylvia Miles (Congresswoman Bernstein), Anne DeSalvo (Sylvia Cacetti), Rick Aviles (Bandana), Antonia Rey (Bandana’s Mother), Geraldine Smith (Helen Fumo), Frankie Gio (Pete Fumo), Chris Anthony Young (Carmine), Justin Lazard (Justin); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: R; producer: David Weisman/Nelson Lyon; Virgin Vision; 1988)
“In a witless way goofs on Italian gangsters.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Andy Warhol Factory director Paul Morrissey (“Forty Deuce”/”Mixed Blood”/”Trash”)collaborates withAlan Bowne on this trashy cartoonish ethnic comedy that in a witless way goofs on Italian gangsters and anyone else included in its perverse fairy tale story. Filled with racial stereotypes, a cynicism for society and a crude contempt for people, it gets up from the gutter because of a charged performance by Sasha Mitchell as the titular character and that its cheap comedy shock jokes may find an audience that responds well to its stream of ethnic insult jokes.
In Bensonhurst, a mostly Italian middle-class section of Brooklyn, the heavy Brooklyn accented juvenile delinquent high school drop-out Spike Fumo (Sasha Mitchell) aspires to be a boxer and make something of himself. Spike has the hots for the uncouth bubble-gum chewing Angel (Maria Pitillo), the teenage daughter of local Mafia kingpin Baldo Cacetti (Ernest Borgnine), who helps the kid out by getting him club fights that are fixed. When the mob boss finds out that the likable but irresponsible fuck-up kid is dating his daughter he disapproves and points his headstrong daughter in the direction of the more refined Italian college grad gangster Justin (Justin Lazard). When Spike disobeys, he’s banished from the Italian neighborhood he loves, his lesbian mom (Geraldine Smith) kicks him out and his Sing Sing inmate father (Frankie Gio) warns him not to fuck with the mob boss who feeds the family. Spike moves to the Puerto Rican slum section of Red Hook and moves into a cramped apartment with the large family of Puerto Rican boxer Bandana’s (Rick Aviles), and has a situation with his pretty sister India (Talisa Soto). Knocking up both girls, Spike contemplates his future that will call for a change in career ambitions.
The story is woven around crass racial slurs that are sometimes mean-spirited. Its broad satire never scores any knockout points. Sylvia Miles has a stupid role as a corrupt Jewish congresswoman. Borgnine, the film’s most appealing character, goes through the motions playing in a lighthearted way the often befuddled mob boss who is capable of both violence and acts of kindness. Anne DeSalvo brings some laughs as the much younger wife of the mob boss. Antonia Rey plays her Puerto Rican mother role for laughs, but her lines are just not funny. Soto is an attractive real-life model, but her acting is wooden.
REVIEWED ON 10/10/2012 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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