This is one of the most unsatisfying roles I’ve ever seen Jack Nicholson in. Usually, he’s amazing and his energy level just flows out and creates a wonderful character, no matter what. But here, his portrayal of Charlie feels so wooden and fake. Nicholson seems to force that stereotypical mafia guy accent and it stifles everything.
It doesn’t really help that Charlie is kind of a dim-wit hit-man. We can’t completely blame him, being in the family his entire life, Charlie never has to think for himself. He just listens to the old men and does the job. So when he meets Irene (Kathleen Turner) at a wedding and decides to chase that tail, I wondered, don’t mafia boys have certain girls to marry? And when a murder happens that the Prizzi family isn’t in on, I felt I was one step ahead of Charlie being suspicious of Irene. When she turned out to be a free-lance hit-man herself, I just wanted to tell Charlie, “Well, duh.”
Now, what is going to happen when two assassins fall in love? They might work together a bit and eventually are going to be assigned to whack each other. So the only real tension in this whole film is wondering if this will end Bradgelina Mr. and Mrs. Smith style or will they put their work before their love?
Okay, enough of Negative Nancy. Two performances really stand out in this film. Anjelica Huston plays Charlie’s ex lover, who becomes a jealous villain. Her evil woman portrayal is wonderful, sultry, refreshing, earned her and Oscar nod and kept me interested in the fate of dim-bulb Charlie. Also, John Randolph plays a surprisingly lively old Godfather to Charlie. He looks so old and brittle, he’s practically sitting up in the grave, yet he has the power to mold Charlie as he pleases and keep the Prizzi family in line.
If you’re looking for a mafia movie or lovers unknowingly pitted against each other, there are many that are much better out there. If you’re a Jack Nicholson fan, this role might just piss you off, cause we all know he’s better than this.
“Do I ice her? Do I marry her?”