Prizzi's Honor (1985) starring Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner, Robert Loggia, John Randolph, William Hickey, Lee Richardson, Anjelica Huston directed by John Huston Movie Review

Prizzi's Honor (1985)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Kathleen Turner and Jack Nicholson in Prizzi's Honor (1985)

Mr & Mrs Partanna

I don't know whether "Prizzi's Honor" was the first movie to take the mafia theme and turn it into a comedy but it certainly is one of the most memorable and best. Here is a movie which when watched now, over 25 years after it was released is still darkly amusing and you can see how it has influenced more recent movies especially "Mr. & Mrs. Smith". But whilst a fun movie with some brilliant scenes it suffers from one significant flaw and that is it goes on too long and during the second half it occasionally struggles to keep your attention.

Charley Partanna (Jack Nicholson - Terms of Endearment) has been raised as part of the family, a hitman for the Prizzi family thanks to his father's close friendship with Don Corrado Prizzi (William Hickey). But Charley's life becomes complicated when he spots Irene (Kathleen Turner - Romancing the Stone), a vision in lavender at a Prizzi wedding and falls for her unbeknownst to him that she had been hired to do a specialist hit for the family. Despite further complications and revelations Charley and Irene fall in love and marry but then when they both get asked to do jobs it will test their loyalties to the max.

Anjelica Huston as Maerose Prizzi in Prizzi's Honor (1985)

"Prizzi's Honor" is very much a movie of two halves with the first half being all about Charley falling for Irene and discovering many things about her along the way. These revelations which go further than the fact that she was hired to kill by the Prizzi family are all part of a more complex and convoluted second half. But this first half means we have the fun of Charley and Irene falling very quickly in love with a scene which is so over the top cheesy as they declare their love for each other that you wonder how Nicholson and Turner kept a straight face.

So for half of the movie we have the fun of Charley and Irene falling in love and Charley constantly finding things out about her but then the second half is more about a series of double crosses and treacherous manoeuvring on behalf of one of the Prizzi family. This is where I have a problem because this second half becomes so convoluted as Charley doesn't know who is screwing with whom that it becomes too taxing on your brain to follow. All this double crossing which leads to Charley and Irene getting the loyalty testing contracts is meant to be funny and in a way it is but for me it is a bit too much.

Despite that you have say that "Prizzi's Honor" is full of fun when it comes to the Mafia genre and I am not on about lame jokes built around a fish out of water. From Charley's father constantly reminding him it's just business to William Hickey giving us the closest thing to the living dead as Don Corrado Prizzi it is simply full of dark comedy. It's not all dark comedy and there is some more standard humour such as the over the top "I Love You" scene and the ensuing comically rampant love making scene.

Whilst the actual story works well and the two sides combine nicely "Prizzi's Honor" is once again a movie which is memorable for the performances and not just that of William Hickey as Don Prizzi. Jack Nicholson give us slightly dumb as Charley and Kathleen Turner giving us cat like deadly as Irene making for an amusing pair especially when Irene seduces the slightly simple Charley. But then Nicholson and Turner are matched by an equally brilliant Anjelica Huston as the manipulative Maerose whose facial expression of delight are pure magic.

What this all boils down to is that "Prizzi's Honor" is one of the best movies made when it comes to having fun with the mafia genre. But despite brilliant performances and plenty of dark humour it does drag on too long as a second half becomes too convoluted.