Dismally unfunny cross-cultural farce posits stupidity as the universal language: Dim-bulb heirs to the Russian and American Mafia thrones team up in search of a double-dealing mail order bride. Slick lensing of picture postcard Moscow landmarks, the presence of Danny Aiello and the delectable Ivana Milicevic and cameos by Frank Gorshin and Vincent Pastore ("Sopranos") may explain why film managed to find even limited theatrical release.

Dismally unfunny cross-cultural farce posits stupidity as the universal language: Dim-bulb heirs to the Russian and American Mafia thrones team up in search of a double-dealing mail order bride. Slick lensing of picture postcard Moscow landmarks, the presence of Danny Aiello and the delectable Ivana Milicevic and cameos by Frank Gorshin and Vincent Pastore (“Sopranos”) may explain why film managed to find even limited theatrical release. But the resultant blink-of-an-eye run (it opened and closed in a week at one theater in Gotham) probably reflect pic’s ultimate audience appeal.

Tony Santini (Aiello), head of a well-established, smoothly run Italo-American racket, is at his wit’s end trying to figure out what to do with his nephew, Tony (Robert Capelli Jr., pic’s star, co-writer and co-director), a genial dingbat.

When a connected pal gets taken for a ride by a crooked Russian mail order bride, Aiello feels obligated to right the situation, and contacts his equivalent number in the Russian mob at Brighton Beach. Each decides to send his lame-brain relative to track down the nuisance, more to get rid of them than out of any lust for payback.

Tony is dispatched to Moscow along with Ivan (Slava Schoot), son of Russia’s No. 1 Crime Boss. Where Tony specializes in cute and goofy cluelessness, Ivan’s forte is getting royally drunk and draping himself over multiple bimbos. A series of indifferently staged pratfalls finds Tony shooting himself in the ass and suffering the ministrations of a mad Russian surgeon with shaky hands (Gorshin).

Tony soon meets and falls hard for a beautiful Russian named Butterfly (Milicevic). Idyllic sequences of the lovers giddily clowning around every known tourist stop in a rat-a-tat barrage of photo ops is briefly interrupted when Tony belatedly realizes that Butterfly is, in fact, Nina, the scamming mail order bride.

Double- and triple-crosses oblige Tony, literally on the run from all kinds of shady characters, to race past whatever few Russian monuments were omitted in the aforementioned cutesy-lovers montage.

Tech credits are polished, but doomed by inane script, poorly timed direction and uneven the sping.

Mail Order Bride

U.S.-Russia

Production

A Small Planet Pictures release of a Relativity Prods. /Studio Rhythm Mosfilm production in association with American World Pictures. Produced by Sergei Konenkov. Executive producers, Alexander Zavaruev, Yury Kuzhnerev. Directed by Robert Capelli Jr., Jeffrey Wolf. Screenplay, Doug Bollinger, Capelli, Sergei Konenkov.

Crew

Camera (color), Sergei Kozlov, Ly Bolia; editor, Martin Levenstein; music, the Red Elvises; production designer, Michele Ferentinos; costumes, Cynthia Lahiff; sound (Dolby), Richard Q. King; casting Michele Ortlip. Reviewed at Russian Film Week in New York, Nov. 2, 2003. Running time: 85 MIN. (English, Russian dialogue)

With

Tony Santini - Danny Aiello Anthony Santini - Robert Capelli Jr. Nina/Butterfly - Ivana Milicevic Ivan - Slava Schoot Tommy - Artie Lange

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more