Women love the bad boys, so Lifetime obliges them with this fact-based tale about a woman not quite married to the mob.
Women love the bad boys, so Lifetime obliges them with this fact-based tale about a woman not quite married to the mob. Alyssa Milano is in fine form (pun intended) as Patty Montanari, a struggling widow who becomes a mobster’s “gumar” in part to support her kids, eventually running a nightclub and ferrying illicit cash across the Canadian border. Despite auspices that include Joseph Pistone (the real-life “Donnie Brasco”) and Patty’s actual son Anthony Melchiorri as producers — plus James Caan getting pulled back into Mafia-land — “Wisegal” plays mostly like a thin mish-mash of mob-movie cliches.
Told in voiceover by Patty’s son, “Wisegal” races through Patty’s hard-luck tale to quickly reach the moment when she buries her husband, leaving her a single mom. At that at point she has a meet-cute encounter with undertaker/wiseguy Frank Russo (Jason Gedrick), whose gang accuses him of “thinking with the wrong part of your body.” Fairly soon, Patty’s resistance to a liaison with the married Frank melts away, and he puts her in charge of a restaurant that she turns into a fabulous success, catching the eye of big boss Salvatore (Caan), who enlists her for the cash-smuggling operation.
OK, so seeing Milano with wads of unmarked bills taped under her breasts is the equivalent of two taste treats in one. This is less about putting her in slutty get-ups, darn the luck, than a tepid rehash of “Goodfellas,” only with a woman in the middle of a dangerous game from which, theoretically, no one escapes.
Milano makes a convincing enough lioness protecting her cubs and, as crafted by director Jerry Ciccoritti and writer Shelley Evans, almost single-handedly carries the story. As for Gedrick and Caan, both have played similar roles so many times before it’s hard not to simply file these performances away somewhere amid their repertoires of roguish pricks and steely bad-guys. (Gedrick previously starred in “Falcone,” a short-lived CBS series based on Pistone’s undercover experience.)
“Wisegal” is just the kind of actress-oriented movie vehicle at which CBS once excelled, and seeing it on Lifetime provides yet another reminder of how slim the pickings are beyond the few cable networks that still indulge in such fare — and, not incidentally, consistently do reasonably well with it by those less-exacting standards.
Even so, this is at best mobsters lite — a movie packed with a little bada, perhaps, but not much bing.