My Blue Heaven

Year 1990

Steve Martin as  Vincent Antonelli  
Rick Moranis as Barney Coopersmith  
Joan Cusack as Hannah Stubbs
Carol Kane as Shaldeen
William Hickey   as Billy Sparrow
Director - Herbert Ross
Screenwriter - Nora Ephron

I wouldn't say that is a great movie. I would say that it's a fun, cute movie with lots of entertaining scenes that hold together.

The story is about Vincent Antonelli (Martin), a wise guy from New York, and how he fits in with the clean scrubbed and trusting denizens of a suburb outside of San Diego when he's placed there as part of a witness protection relocation program. The theme of the story is the fish out of water scenario, or more appropriately for this movie, the landshark at a beach party scenario.

The movie is entertaining for a variety of reasons. There are the scenes where Antonelli compulsively scams everyone, there's a love story or two, and there's the contrast between the "mob" and "sucker" mentality.

I enjoyed Steve Martin, hair dyed dark, murdering some East Coast accent that was part New York City, Bronx, Jersey, and made up. The result never convinces anyone that he's from New York, but it does match the spirit of the film. That spirit is always light and breezy.

Martin as a mobster is a harmless guy who could never hurt a fly. He never even tries to be intimidating, which is part of the charm. He's a big kid with no moral compass. Moranis is his FBI handler Barney Coopersmith. Moranis is more of the same. He's not intimidating and only convincing in his role because that role involves paper pushing.

Each man gets to be serious once or twice. Because the scenes are necessary segues to the rest of the movie, they work.

Some of the scenes are a lot of fun. When Antonelli gets Coopersmith to dance the Merengue with a couple of girls in New York, Martin's energy combined with the tempo of the song can make the viewer wish that he were part of the scene.

That scene is a standout, but not a singular occurance. The ballpark scene, where Antonelli takes Barney Coopersmith in an effort to play matchmaker as well as the final courtroom scene where an attempt is made on Antonelli's life are lively. Unforgettable are the jail scene where Antonelli has free run of the building even though he's under arrest, the move-in scene between Antonelli and his wife who's in the process of leaving him, and Antonelli's meeting Shaldeen in the grocery store.

But the dialogue is the best, and worst part, of the movie. Some of the quotes may not be perfect, but they're typical examples of what you can expect.

Grocery Store Manager: Is there anything we can provide?
Antonelli: Uh-ruegula.
Grocery Store Manager: <looks lost>
Antonelli: It's a veg-eh-teh-bul.

Coopersmith: Capeese?
Antonelli: Are you trying to say capish? Well don't. When you do it, it hurts my ears.

Antonelli to Coopersmith: Face it, you're not a bad looking guy. In fact, you're better looking than me. But I will get laid more than you because I look them in the eye.

Antonelli: It's dangerous for you to be in the frozen food section.
Shaldeen: Ooh? Why is that?
Antonelli: Because you could melt all this stuff.

Antonelli: My name's Todd. It's Italian for...extra special.
Shaldeen swooning: Ooh.

Any time that Antonelli is inventing a lie on the spot is comic genius. Martin hems and haws a bit to show that's making stuff up as he goes along. But he uses cadence to lull people into a sort of hypnotic trance so that they buy into his nonsense. He also uses a diversion, like a bouncing ball, to distract people from the crux of his ludicrous explanations. He's a study in lying.

Now for the bad. Antonelli is trying to explain to the District Attorney that the car he stole was actually the result of a mistaken identity and the cases of pilferred liquor found in the car must belong to the automobile's rightful owner who happens to be a Reverend. The two talk about "jump starting" the car when they mean "hot wiring" the car. It's distracting.

There are also a couple of jokes used by Martin that were well worn before he used them in the movie. The three or four scenes that are clunkers keep the movie from being fully enjoyable. But, they aren't deal breakers.

Except for an "Intercourse you" response to hearing "Have a nice day" one too many times, there's no profanity and no blasphemy.

Like Barney Coopersmith who finally accepts Vinnie for what he is and can only roll his eyes when Vinnie goes on about what happened to his uncle Al Fresco, you'll be charmed by Martin's interpretation of the gangster as well.

It's not a romantic movie, but it's fun and easy to watch. There's a fair amount of chick flick potential without being burdensome about it. Most of the scenes and the lines never get old, so that's why it's in this viewing category.

Oh, and it's not "capeese" and it's not "capish". If you're from the East Coast, it's more like "gahbeesh" with the accent on the "gah".

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