Nobody sees this movie as a classic. But I do. It’s from a moment of great joy, when I was 11 years old and sitting beside my father and uncle at the Majestic Theater in Ellwood City, PA, as they proceeded to laugh so loudly during this film until you could no longer hear what was being said. My memories of this movie make it mean more to me than anything in the Criterion Collection.
Montgomery “Monty” Capuletti is the role that Rodney Dangerfield felt was closest to who he really was. He lives hard, he drinks too much, he gambles and he lives to smoke pot. He’s the only Italian member of an Irish family of rich folks who own a department store, Monahan’s. He also ruins nearly everything he touches, from his job as a photographer to his daughter’s (Jennifer Jason Leigh!) wedding cake and marriage to Julio (Taylor Negron!).And his best friends — Nickey Cerone (Joe Pesci!) and Paddy (Tom Noonan!) — are just as sloppy and messed up as he is.
That’s when the film’s challenge happens. His wife’s mother dies and Monty stands to inherit all $10 million of her will if he can give up drinking, drugs and gambling, plus lose weight. Much like all great 80’s movies, I have given you the plot and simply follow with this statement: hijinks ensue.
You get so much in this film. You get real life pedo and full-time movie asshole, Jeffrey Jones, doing what he does best, be an asshole. You get Taylor Negron saying the lines that Anthrax would use in their song “I’m the Man.” You get a store that’s only open 23 hours a day. And you get the real guy look, the fashion line that Monty inspires.
Director James Signorelli only has one other movie to his credit, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. But he has been involved in the making of Saturday Night Live off and on as a producer, plus he also worked on the crews of Black Caesar, Phantom of the Paradise and Superfly. This movie is a quick trifle, but it makes me laugh every single time. It’s running time is a blur and it always rewards multiple viewings with just as many laughs.
If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can watch it for free.