Meet the Mob-Father
Auctioneer Michael Felgate (Hugh Grant - Extreme Measures) finds himself getting into more and more trouble after he discovers that his fiancée is the daughter of a big time mob boss. Things get even worse when one of the mob bosses decides to sell his son's paintings through Michael's auction house in an attempt to launder money, something which comes to the attention of the FBI. When the son of the mob boss gets accidentally killed everything goes completely wrong for Michael as he gets deeper and deeper into trouble.
Stick Hugh Grant in a British comedy like "Notting Hill" and often his bumbling English toff persona is amusing, stick him in an American comedy and sadly he becomes weak, repetitive and to be frank more than a little annoying. Which is why "Mickey Blue Eyes" struggles from start to finish as Hugh Grant is too awkward as the English art dealer suddenly thrown into the criminal underworld of mobsters. Which is a shame as although "Mickey Blue Eyes" is little more than a traditional fish out of water movie it has a storyline which with a little bit more originality could have been entertaining.
Honestly the ideas behind "Mickey Blue Eyes" are not amazing; as I said it is basically a fish out of water comedy focussing on a quintessential Englishman suddenly thrown into the murky world of the mob whilst at the same time slightly parodying the gangster movie genre. In many ways the ideas are a little similar to those used in "Analyze This" starring Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro, which having been released a few months prior to "Mickey Blue Eyes" did it no favours by simply being all round better. But whilst not being anything amazingly new "Mickey Blue Eyes" is in many ways a good idea for a movie with plenty of opportunity for hilarious scenes especially with the naivety of an Englishman thrown into mob culture.
But the issue with "Mickey Blue Eyes" is that Hugh Grant was definitely not the right person to play the lead. In the few scenes where he is in the auction room he is perfect, the charming Englishman act works and is genuinely entertaining with Grant showing the way with some clever comedy dialogue. But then once placed in amongst all the other well known actors and mob characters he turns into a bumbling fool which the longer the movie goes on the more annoying it becomes. He just doesn't come across as either strong enough or convincing as the fish out of water, a little too calm when you would expect him to be more frantic. This may sound cruel but at times it feels a little amateurish, as if he is relying on just his bumbling English persona to get him through the entire movie rather than trying to stretch himself with something we haven't witnessed him do before.
If you take Hugh Grant out of the equation then the rest of the cast do a surprisingly decent job despite playing underwritten characters. Jeanne Tripplehorn as his betrothed Gina Vitale does enough to make her character likeable and a little different to the usual weak and overly cutesy female characters which tend to fill romcoms. Plus James Caan is great fun as her father, the mob henchman who finds himself in an awkward situation thanks to his future son in law. Caan's performance is surprisingly similar to one he delivered in "Honeymoon in Vegas" but it works well.
The list of good performances go on with Burt Young playing a wonderful mob boss as is Joe Viterelli who plays another henchman. It is very much a case that the strong American cast make "Mickey Blue Eyes" half decent because their parodying of mob culture is great fun to watch. But then doing not so well is James Fox whose character Philip Cromwell, the owner of the auction house, feels like it has been tagged on so that Hugh Grant didn't feel quite so alone as the only Englishman. The trouble is that Fox plays another bumbling Englishman making his character an intentional joke but one which serves very little purpose.
What this all boils down to is that whilst there is much which is right with "Mickey Blue Eyes" it's all wasted because Hugh Grant was the wrong choice to play the central role. He may be a nice chap, perfect for those quirky British comedies but stuck in the middle of this American fish out of water rom-com he seems like a one trick pony.