Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Movie Review: Mobsters and Mormons

The film Mobsters and Mormons starts out with the following 'what if': what if a hardened member of the Mafia was sent to the heart of Utah as part of the witness protection program? Carmine Pasquale is vying to become a caporegime (a position roughly equivalent to captain) in his crime family but gets caught by the FBI. He turns evidence in return for witness protection for himself and his family. Much to their chagrin, they're sent to the Jell-O Belt.[1] All of their neighbors are Latter-day Saints (popularly known as Mormons). Various moments of comedy ensue as the two cultures clash.

My verdict: This was an okay film, but it did have some flaws. First, the good stuff. There are some funny parts, and not all of the comedy puts the magnifying glass on Latter-day Saints. I really like Scott Christopher (who played Mike Jaymes) as an actor. His characters feel very real to me. At one point in the film there occurred a tragedy. Right before it happened, I knew it was going to happen. But I was still surprised when it did happen. And it was surprisingly moving. Had this been a drama, instead of a comedy, that scene would've been potentially very powerful (and risky).

Now the flaws. The 'bad' Latter-day Saints were overblown stereotypes.[2] I've lived in Utah for most of my life and I've never known anyone that bad. And I think depicting them so one-dimensionally on film will only encourage incorrect beliefs about Latter-day Saints. Also, I didn't see the point of having Julie be Mike Jaymes' little sister, instead of a rebellious daughter. Having half the ward voting against Mike Jaymes as the new Bishop was almost as unbelievable as the sacrament scene in Brigham City, but not as cheesy. I've never seen one person vote against a calling, much less half of a ward. My biggest complaint, though, is that the movie incorrectly suggests that good Latter-day Saints are friendly and caring, but don't think you need to become a Latter-day Saint, too.[3] That said, even though the Pasquales didn't convert to Mormonism, I was still glad to see that they became a more closely-knit family and that they started attending their own Church with more dedication.


[1] The Mormon Corridor (see here) has that nickname because Latter-day Saints stereotypically eat a lot of Jell-O, particularly green Jell-O.

[2] Speaking of stereotypes, I laughed when I saw that Jaymes' wife was pregnant.

[3] We don't need to be pushy about it (see here), but the fact is that membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, through the ordinance of baptism, is necessary for salvation. So a believing member of the Church is going to feel some urgency about sharing the Gospel message.

Image attributions:

Tommy Gun in a Violin Case is by C. Corleis, available at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thompson in violin case.jpg.


  1. Hey, just came across your review. Thanks for the nice comments!

  2. Hmm… Did you Google yourself? Well, either way, thanks for stopping by!