The Chicago Syndicate: Widowed Alyssa Milano Works for Mafia in "Wisegal"

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Widowed Alyssa Milano Works for Mafia in "Wisegal"

Here’s a news flash - things don’t work out so well when you get involved with the mob.

Yet screenwriters can’t seem to stop themselves from spinning gangster tales. There’s nothing particularly new about “Wisegal,” on Lifetime.

Alyssa Milano stars as Patty Montanari in 'Wisegal'Alyssa Milano stars as Patty Montanari, a widowed mother of two young boys. Unable to pay her bills, Patty begins working for the Mafia - first by selling tax-free cigarettes, then by turning a failing mob-owned restaurant into a successful nightclub.

Along the way, she falls for married gangster Frank Russo (Jason Gedrick). Mob boss Salvatore Palmeri (James Caan) makes Patty a promise - he will provide for her family forever if she transports a half-million dollars across the Canadian border.

Even though “Wisegal” is based on a true story, any savvy TV viewer could write what happens next. Heck, anyone who caught 15 minutes of any “Sopranos” episode can forecast how this story will unfold. And writer Shelley Evans seems to know that. Her script often skips key points of exposition. Without explanation, Frank’s son Mouse (Zak Longo) is involved in drugs and this is a huge problem for the mob. Suddenly Frank is a violent threat to Patty and her family.

It may be predictable, but the movie is backed by creditability. Joseph Pistone, the real-life FBI agent who inflitrated the mob as Donnie Brasco, and Anthony Melchiorri, Patty’s real-life son, are executive producers. Melchiorri pays homage to his mother but doesn’t justify her actions. “These people helped me. I made them my family. I knew what I was doing,” Patty tells an FBI agent.

The acting imbues the movie with a higher level of quality. Milano (“Charmed,” “My Name is Earl”) is an extremely likable TV presence. Sporting her best New York accent (probably last heard when she played Long Island Lolita Amy Fisher in the 1993 TV movie “Casualties of Love”), she brings Patty’s scrappy determination to life.

Caan, who knows a thing or two about mob movies, has the right amount of benevolent malice. And Gedrick does a lot with his extremely underwritten role. So while “Wisegal” might not be anything new, it’s a perfectly entertaining way to spend a Saturday night.

Thanks to Amy Amatangelo

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1 comment:

  1. I've seen tons of mobile movies and thus one I absolutely loved....kept moving,true events unfolded in a believable time line and characters were AWESOME...JUST BOUGHT THE MOVIE.