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Movie review: 'The Last Godfather'

Despite a supporting cast that includes Harvey Keitel as his Mafia don father, the slapstick shenanigans of Korean star Shim Hyung-rae fall mostly flat in this would-be, fish-out-of-water comedy.

April 04, 2011|By Mark Olsen, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • "The Last Godfather"
"The Last Godfather" (PRNewsFoto / Roadside Attractions )

Filmed in America and made in English, the film "The Last Godfather" features Korean star-director-writer Shim Hyung-rae as the love-child orphan of a 1950s Mafia don called to the States to take over the family business.

After one quick joke that the 50-something Shim looks a bit old, the film moves into letting him just do what one might expect from a man-child character based around his high-water, high-waisted pants, bumbling antics and odd predilection for gags involving his shoes.

Rather than make a fuss over the storytelling, Shim prefers to keep it simple — two crime families are at war — and just let the performers carry the movie with mugging and banter.

For that task Shim has assembled a real wrecking crew of characters actors, including Michael Rispoli, John Pinette, Blake Clark, Jon Polito and erstwhile Kevin Smith sidekick Jason Mewes. For an ingénue love interest he has cast Jocelin Donahue from "The House of the Devil" and as the don/father no less than Harvey Keitel (who has to hold a straight face when another character uses the phrase "Mean Streets").

Actually, for his part Keitel is neither as embarrassing nor as detached as Robert De Niro in some of his comedic-paycheck parts, and he seems to be enjoying himself, at least, and in one moment gamely rolls on the floor in mock grief.

The film doesn't quite reach the heights of brilliant badness as the last of Jerry Lewis' auteur features, but it perhaps occupies a floor in the same building. The kind of antics that Shim likes to fall back on — broad physical comedy, fish-out-of-water humor, the occasional fart joke — seem as misplaced and trying-too-hard as the Rat Pack in Nehru jackets.

"The Last Godfather" is more harmlessly amiable than outright awful, though it might still be best to just forget about it.

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