“OK how about this? You sell me my double scotch, and you sell my friend his double scotch, but instead of putting his double scotch on his tray, you put it on mine and I’ll pay you for both. By the way have I told you that you look lovely in red and blue… Pam.”
An Italian mobster from New York City, sent to witness protection in the suburbs of California; an FBI agent who needs a little fun in his life; and a district attorney determined to indict the mobster for his petty crimes, putting his protection at risk. This comedy starring Steve Martin and Rick Moranis is a fun movie and an odd companion piece to one of the best mobster movies of the 1990s.
My Blue Heaven (1990)
Directed by Herbert Ross
Written by Nora Ephron
This was one of those movies that was on heavy rotation on HBO when I was a kid. My family loved the movie, and we watched it pretty frequently. I eventually adopted it as one of the movies I would watch when I was bored and needed background noise.
I’ve owned a few different versions of the movie, including a VHS and DVD copy. At Christmas, I got the movie on Blu-Ray. It seems silly to put a 25-plus year old movie on Blu-Ray with no special features beyond a trailer, but whatever. That’s how I watched the movie this time around.
Steve Martin stars as Vincent Antonelli, a mobster put into federal witness protection to testify in a mob trial and Rick Moranis is Barney Coopersmith, the FBI agent assigned to watch him in the small California suburb where he’s been placed. Antonelli can’t deny his nature and tries pulling off small heists on his own, but ends up getting caught. The district attorney, played by Joan Cusack, keeps trying to book him, but Coopersmith keeps Antonelli out of the system to ensure his safety before the trial in New York City.
Antonelli, though, keeps pushing the envelope, getting a group of other former federally witnesses together to start a crime wave. His antics put a strain on the budding relationship between Coopersmith and the district attorney, though he does break the FBI agent out of his dull daily routine and teaches him how to have more fun. Everyone learns how to do the merengue, kids get a new baseball field and Antonelli somehow ends up with three different wives over the course of 97 minutes.
Martin and Moranis work great together, though Moranis is only slightly more than a main supporting actor here. The movie really hinges on Martin hamming it up as an Italian gangster. His accent is pretty terrible, but Martin more than makes up for it with a great energy charisma that completely carries the movie into an enjoyable realm. And really, Antonelli’s accent could have been SOOOO much worse…
As legend has it, originally, Martin was signed on to play the FBI agent with Arnold Schwarzenegger as Antonelli. When Schwarzenegger bailed on MY BLUE HEAVEN to scream about tumors at kindergarteners, Martin moved to take over the role of the mobster. What a different movie that would have been…
Really, while I love watching this movie, the trivia and little details are so much more interesting. MY BLUE HEAVEN, written by Nora Ephron, came out in 1990 and was based on the life of mobster Henry Hill. Hill’s life also inspired the classic mobster flick GOODFELLAS, which was released in the same year and was written by Nicholas Pileggi, the husband of Nora Ephron! So, really, the two movies are companion pieces.
That’s all for this edition. The poll for the next round is still up, so make sure to vote on what comes next! Info on the movies in the poll can be found HERE, and you can vote on our Twitter page.
— The Casual Geekery (@Casual_Geekery) February 13, 2018