Imagine “Donnie Brasco” trying to bluster his way through “The Crying Game” and you’ve grasped the gist of this agreeable low-budget comedy. Cleverly sustaining a one-joke concept, modest effort won’t create any box office stampedes, but could provide career leg-ups for first-time director Jon Carnoy and scenarist Mike Horelick. Pic screens Saturday and Sunday at the Sunset 5 and on Aug. 28 and 29 at the Monica.
Set in 1950s Brooklyn, pic finds mob small-timer George (David Proval) itching to take the place of his don’s assistant, who bites it when a crate of tuna-fish cans topples on his noggin. But George and not-so-bright sidekick Dip (Dan Moran) are perennial low men on the totem pole. Realizing that they’ve forgotten boss Joey’s (Tony Sirico) birthday, duo improvise a “present” — services from the new prostitute in town, whose oral specialty had just sent George to the moon.
For a hefty price, auburn-haired, self-possessed Glorice (Candis Cayne) consents. After initial discord, professional and customer get down to business.
Joey winds up in seventh heaven, and George lands on the A list. “She’s quite a woman,” sighs the don to his new assistant.
Trouble is, she isn’t quite a woman at all. To his horror, George discovers glamour-doll Glorice is in fact a “he-she,” and when the boss susses this out, the parties responsible are likely to be wearing cement shoes. Meanwhile, however, he’s talking marriage; and the “ballsy” prostie is boasting to George that she’ll wait until after the wedding ceremony to execute a blackmail scheme. Frantic, George tries various means to make this dangerous gift go away for good.
Though there are moments of crudity, generally “Mob Queen” handles its central conceit with deft, droll humor, eschewing slapstick or bad-taste yocks in favor of sly amusement. Perfs riff nicely on Mafia stereotypes; Cayne (cited in press notes as “a popular New York personality”) underplays the gender-bender part to credible effect. Period atmosphere is decently handled on modest means, aided by good color lensing and a neat cocktail-lounge score.