Now this is funny. “The Last Don II” — not to be confused with the last “Last Don,” a.k.a. “The Next-to-Last Don” — is a rollicking good show loaded with the requisite camp dialogue and preposterous situations that plays like “The Godfather” on helium. The bullets fly, the knives slice, the ropes strangle, the bombs explode and the mobsters go, “Duh, this isn’t good.” They just don’t make goodfellas like they used to.
If possible, this four-hour mini is even more over-the-top than its heavy-breathing predecessor that was based on “Godfather” author Mario Puzo’s novel, which was the top-rated miniseries of last year. A sweeps-ready sequel was, of course, inevitable, and this one is driven by a similar credo: subtlety is the enemy — and never utter a sentence that doesn’t sound like a threat or a proclamation.
As a result, the teleplay from co-executive producer-writer Joyce Eliason overflows with lines like, “You’re gonna end up in cement shoes,” “People who ask too many questions get into trouble” and “When Clericuzio blood spills, the blood of others must spill.” Indeed, while depicting the most powerful mob clan in America, “Last Don II” is more a series of verbal and violent bursts than a genuine story.
Danny Aiello, the Don himself who carried the first “Last Don,” shows up in “Don II” for mere minutes, dying a peaceful death from old age. But in his brief time onscreen, Aiello manages to display so much makeup that he appears actually to collapse under its weight. Wax figurines have more realistic facial features.
Once the Donmeister is underground, the Clericuzio enemies sense an opening and all heck breaks loose. “Accidents” begin to happen all over the place. Blissfully oblivious to it all is Cross De Lena (a solid, if bland, Jason Gedrick), the proud but tainted nephew of Don Clericuzio who is living the peaceful life in Paris with his gorgeous wife and autistic step-daughter. Then a mail bomb explodes in the wife’s face, and Cross is back in the Mafia saddle.
Both nights of “Last Don II” chart the extended family’s closing of ranks while those ranks get thinned out, as even their women and children are rubbed out. And helmer Graeme Clifford early on grasps that his job is to keep the bodies falling and the bathos flowing. He thus transforms the thin sliver of plot development handed him by Eliason into one very implausible, entertaining trash wallow.
Never is the two-nighter more divertingly theatrical than when Kirstie Alley is close by. She reprises the role of her tortured character Rose Marie Clericuzio — still flipped out over the murder of her son from “Don I” — and gets more time here to wail and flail like some Mental Patient Barbie doll (“Must kill…!”). She also attracts a love interest: Father Luca Tonarini (Jason Isaacs), a kindly priest who counsels Rose Marie and falls deeply in lust. He ultimately chooses the Lord over love, dooming Rose to a life of staring into space and endlessly stabbing pickled olives with plastic cocktail toothpicks.
British seductress Patsy Kensit also shows up, portraying a nanny to Cross’ autistic little girl. She also appears to be working for the feds, which complicates things when she falls heavily for widower Cross. This is not the most effective way to foster family loyalty. Robert Wuhl is a scream as a loudmouth studio boss named Bobby Bantz. And Joe Mantenga’s character Pippi actually gets briefly resurrected from the dead in a few dream sequences that he plays with mirthful bluster.
But most of the humor in “Last Don II” sprouts from its drama. For instance, it doesn’t seem to dawn on anyone that the autistic daughter might have some natural bonding problems after seeing her mother blown to bits. Or that after the love of his life is vaporized, Cross is flirting with the nanny within days. Denial has never been presented with such daunting banality.
Tech credits are fine.