Avenging Angelo plays like a Sandra Bullock comedy from the late 1990s, except it’s Madeleine Stowe in the Bullock role and… I don’t know Stallone in the Keanu Reeves role, if Keanu Reeves did romantic comedies. Maybe still-on-“ER” George Clooney or someone. There aren’t any Italian movie stars in Hollywood right now… oh, obviously, Antonio Banderas playing an Italian. Anyway, instead of Bullock and Banderas, it’s Stowe and Stallone, which makes Avenging Angelo all of a sudden a very different romantic comedy. First, it’s a romantic comedy about the Mafia; that genre is rarely explored. But the reason it works as a romantic Mafia comedy is because of the second different aspect… Stallone and Stowe aren’t young. Stowe being a bored wealthy housewife on Long Island makes a lot of sense. Stallone as the bodyguard who’s always been too busy protecting Stowe (without her knowing, of course) to have a life of his own. Too little of the time lost angle is discussed in the film–it’s way too subtle, to the point I almost suspect the writers never went in and made it age appropriate for Stowe and Stallone, leaving it for Bullock and Banderas or whoever.
Stallone pretty much makes the movie; it’s clear from the beginning, he’s having a great time, whether it’s working with Anthony Quinn (in these scenes, Stallone doesn’t even bother acting, just spends them enjoying Quinn’s company) or doing the romantic comedy lead. The movie’s not long, so the first act is when Stowe actually has the most character-defining acting to do and she’s fine. There’s not much of a role (her husband is a louse, she misses her kid, her life is boring and shallow) for her to work with, but, since it’s a short movie, pretty soon she’s in full romantic comedy lead mode too.
A film made in 2002, Avenging Angelo has as much use of songs for background music as one made in 1988. There are at least six of these montages and the film’s got a nice Bill Conti score, so either the script really didn’t have enough going on (as it plays, the film’s sub-plotless) or Conti was just too busy… or I suppose they wanted to have enough for a soundtrack release?
Being a romantic comedy, the film hinges on Stallone and Stowe’s chemistry and they’re good together, but it’s understandable why the film didn’t get a theatrical release. Stowe never recovered from her disappearance from the screen in the late 1990s (at the height of her career) and Stallone’s fans never went for his comedic turns… and it reminded me a lot of Faithful (the comedy with Chazz Palminteri and Cher)–down to the action being centered around two people in a house. And no one ever asked for another Faithful….
But, all in all, it’s a pleasant, traditional romantic comedy. Perfectly fine.
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