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Mickey Blue Eyes
1999 - PG-13 - 102 Mins.
Director: Kelly Makin
Producer: Elizabeth Hurley
Written By: Kelly Makin
Starring: Hugh Grant, James Caan, Jeanne Triplehorn, Burt Young, James Fox
Review by: John Ulmer
   
One can hardly blame Robert De Niro for turning down James Caan's role in "Mickey Blue Eyes" (1999). Actually, I'm not sure if he did turn down the role, or was even offered it, for that matter. But one can - or must - only assume that he was both offered the role and turned it down. And let me tell you: As much as I love James Caan, I love Robert De Niro more, and as much as James Caan is a great actor, Robert De Niro just fits this role ten times better. Or even Al Pacino. Who knows, maybe he was offered the role and turned it down, too.

Our tale begins in New York City. Michael (Hugh Grant) is a bumbling British man trying to make his way through the maze of modern New York. He runs his own auction house, and has been going out with his new girlfriend (the always-annoying Jeanne Triplehorn) for a short time. But Michael believes it is true love, and so in a cheap Chinese restaurant one night, he proposes to her. She turns him down. Soon Michael finds out that she has turned down his proposal because of her father, who owns a restaurant called "The Le" something-or-other (the joke is that "the" is French for "le," therefore it is the same as saying, "The the something-or-other." But this joke is stretched even to the end credits).

Michael runs in his bumbling manner over to her father's restaurant, where he meets mobster James Caan. Because Michael is a naive British man, it takes him an awfully long time to realize that Caan is a gangster using the restaurant as a front - har-har, I'm freakin' laughing, it's so funny. (Not.)

Caan is supportive of Michael marrying his daughter. "I want someone to treat her the way she deserves. Like a fu**in' princess," he says. Let me just cut into my plot summary real quick here to point something out. As is the case with all PG-13s nowadays, they must have one character use the F-word at LEAST once, or else it might be considered unfunny. The only problem here is that we are led to believe Caan is a gangster who doesn't frequently curse. Okay, we can accept that because we realize (a) it would be rated R if they put in swearing and (b) it is not needed (did "The Godfather" use the F-word at all? No.). But to throw in a mandatory F-word confuses us. Caan uses it so casually - yet it is the only time he uses that word during the entire film. So does he swear or not? It makes the audience feel confused and manipulated. I know, I know, it sounds crazy. Call me a picky viewer, but I like my characters to be real, to be consistent. Throwing in the mandatory F-word makes them feel to me like superficial characters in a story cooked up by film producers. Someone like Robert De Niro can get away with swearing in "Meet the Parents" because he constantly refers to Ben Stiller as "Focker." Here it just seems plain annoying when someone uses the F-bomb once and then never uses it again throughout the entire film. It just seems superficial. If they're going to say it, at least make it punctuate an act of surprise of fear, don't just throw it into the middle of a sentence so casually and then never use it again.

Okay, on to the rest of the summary. Where was I? I seem to have forgotten. Do you really care about the rest of the plot? I didn't think so. Let's move on.

The film is simply not funny. The film has some very funny moments (Caan teaching Grant to talk like an Italian-American gangster is downright clever writing and acting), but the rest of the film is sappy and predictable and just not funny at all. Save the rare "har-har" or grin, this film really accomplishes nothing it set out to do. I strongly recommend 2000's "Meet the Parents" over this. They are almost identical in plot, but one has hilarious execution and the other does not.

James Caan seems to be snoozing through the script, as if he knew it was bad during filming, while Robert De Niro was just darn hilarious in "Meet the Parents." Remember, "I have tits, Greg. Can you milk me?" De Niro was extremely into character during "Meet the Parents." His facial expressions, his body language. James Caan just seems plain dead in "Mickey Blue Eyes."

And what's with the film's title? Michael only poses as Mickey Blue Eyes in one scene - for the entire duration of the seemingly endless film. A much better title would have been "The Incompetent Script."

This is a bad, unfunny film, even by romantic-comedy standards. As you may well know by now, I'm a sucker when it comes to romantic comedies, I find them all very watchable and humorous, even the slight ones such as "Two Weeks Notice." But this film just didn't cut it for me.

One can only be left wondering how much funnier the film would have been if Michael had posed as a gangster for most of the duration of the film (which is what I assumed after reading the plot summary for the movie). Caan and Grant could have stumbled into gangster operations and Michael would have had to pose as a mafia boss longer than he does in this movie. Once again I come back to a De Niro film much funnier than this. It's called "Analyze This." "Mickey Blue Eyes" comes across as a sad renindition of that film, with streaks of "Meet the Parents" and "The Godfather." Granted "Meet the Parents" came out a year after this film, but the script for "Meet the Parents" was supposedly written before this film's script.

For ripping off two very funny movies, "Mickey Blue Eyes" is only hindered when it comes to comedy. Hugh Grant plays up his stumbling, stuttering, bumbling idiot role more than I ever wanted him to (how often do we have to put up with the same characters from him?), James Caan is boring, uninspired and seems asleep at the wheel, and come to think of it, the film does, too.

It's just not funny.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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