Review: 'Mighty Fine'
Plot: A Brooklyn Jewish family packs up all its cares and woe, and relocates to mid-'70s Louisiana.
Bottom line: Disjointed period drama about a family whose members have seemingly just met.
Cast: Chazz Palminteri, Andie MacDowell, Jodelle Ferland, Rainey Qualley
'Mighty Fine' review: Familial dysfunction goes awry
One could review "Mighty Fine" pretty well just by pointing out that it features Andie MacDowell as a Holocaust survivor. But Debbie Goodstein-Rosenfeld's quasi-memoir about familial dysfunction goes awry in more interesting ways as well. A pastiche of domestic dramas (and apparently based, loosely, on Goodstein-Rosenfeld's life), the film stars Chazz Palminteri as Joe Fine, a Brooklyn-born garment manufacturer who moves his family to Louisiana circa 1974, into a house the size of Tara, in an overture of disaster so ripe it's virtually bursting. But Joe's problems involve more than real estate: Some expected financing immediately goes south, he gets involved with the mob, his lobbyists in Washington aren't doing their job, and oh, by the way, he also has anger issues which culminate in his clearing out a pool party thrown by daughter Maddie (Rainey Qualley, MacDowell's real-life daughter) by firing his old Army-issue M1 at the guests.
Joe's out-and-out craziness -- which is linked to his business stress, and shouldn't be -- are just part of the Fine family saga. Younger daughter Natalie (Jodelle Ferland), who provides the movie's point of view (Janeane Garafolo provides the narration) wants to be a writer, and idolizes Anne Frank, who led a wartime life much like her mother's. Mom ("You faddah is soddy for vat he does") is mostly ineffectual regarding Dad ("I'm buildin' an empire heayah!"). She's grateful to him, after all -- until she realizes that his mania is endangering her daughters. For a Jewish family out of Brooklyn, the Fines don't seem so Jewish, and they operate at an emotional state very close to hysteria: A scene at the vet's, where the family's old dog is going to be put down, is completely overwrought, but illuminates what's amiss with "Mighty Fine," namely a well-meaning but unstable hand at the tiller, and a propensity for charting plot points, rather than a clear narrative destination.
PLOT A Brooklyn Jewish family packs up all its cares and woe, and relocates to mid-'70s Louisiana. RATING R (vulgarity, fleeting nudity)
PLAYING AT North Shore Towers
BOTTOM LINE Disjointed period drama about a family whose members have seemingly just met