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Monday, August 17, 2015

THE SYLVESTER SEMESTER: Avenging Angelo (2002)

“Eye See You” wasn’t the only Sylvester Stallone movie to go straight-to-video in 2002. That same year, “Avenging Angelo” was unceremoniously dumped on DVD with little press and no fanfare. Unlike “Eye See You,” where there’s some information on what when wrong with the movie and how it ended up released like it was, there’s no behind-the-scenes info on “Avenging Angelo.” No one involved with its production, including Stallone, have much to say about it. Nowadays, it may be the least talked about thing the actor has ever appeared in. This side of “The Party at Kitty and Stud’s,” “Avenging Angelo” seems to represent the lowest point in Stallone’s career.

Crime boss Angelo Allieghieri has a secret. Years ago, he fathered a daughter. Fearful for the girl’s life, due to all the people trying to kill him at the time, Angelo gave her up for adaptation. For years, Angelo has observed Jennifer’s life from afar. The man doing that watching is Frankie Delano, a mob tough guy and Jennifer’s unnoticed body guard. Once Angelo is murdered by some hitmen, Frankie decides to inform Jennifer of her secret parentage. Together, the two go off on a journey to survive the world of organized crime.

This is it, guys. We’ve hit the bottom. “Rhinestone” was more goofy then bad. “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot” was fascinating for its grotesque miscalculations. Even “Driven” had some moments of unintentional comedy. “Avenging Angelo,” meanwhile, is entirely worthless from beginning to end. The film is a dire mob comedy in the mold of “Married to the Mob” or “Mickey Blue Eyes.” There’s a bunch of lame jokes, like a scene of Sly disposing of a flatulent dead body or him scarring off the girl’s unfaithful husband. One moment that you can see coming a thousand yards away is when Jessica attempts to seduce an elderly mob boss. The movie is startlingly free of laughs. There’s seems to be moments that are meant to be jokes. Yet none of them register. Furthermore, the film says nothing new or interesting about the mob genre.

In addition to being a limp attempt at the mafia comedy, “Avenging Angelo” is also a romantic/comedy. It’s only slightly better as a rom-com. From the moment Frankie and Jessica appear together on-screen, you know they’re going to end up together. Despite the obviousness of this, the movie slowly forces the two together. Frankie likes Jessica but is too respectful to pursue her. Jessica slowly warms up to the guy, touched by his devotion. Madeleine Stowe is alright as Jessica. She’s decently charming, even if the script gives few chances to show her comedic skills. About the only saving grace of the film is the mildly amusing romantic chemistry Stowe has with Sly. There’s nothing compelling about the romance. The pay-off is assured and the characters are too thin to care about. Yet, in the ocean of crushing mediocrity that is “Avenging Angelo,” it's something.

Since nobody gives a shit about it, I went into “Avenging Angelo” knowing nothing about it. The DVD cover art makes it look like a normal crime flick. Even the title is misleading, as you assume Stallone is the Angelo, doing the avenging. In truth, the character is avenging Angelo’s death. Despite being an oppressively lame comedy for most of its run-time, the film still gets weirdly serious at the end. The plot is a collection of convoluted mob movie clichés. There’s a web of grudges and murders driving things. It’s not really important. Anyway, the movie has a barely worth mentioning subplot about a romance novelist Jessica likes. It brings the two plots together awkwardly at the end. Turns out the romance novelist is the film’s true antagonists, Sly rushing in to save the day soon after the reveal. These moments are completely sincere and feel totally at odds with the film’s overall tone.

As a comedy, “Avenging Angelo” is never funny. As a romance, its love story is entirely functionary. As an action movie, it provides nothing thrilling. Finally, Sylvester Stallone seems incredibly bored throughout the entire thing. This is something he has in common with the audience. “Avenging Angelo” isn’t a fiasco. It is something worst then that. It’s a sleep-inducing apathy machine, a film totally lacking in anything interesting, entertaining, thoughtful, or compelling. It's my official vote the worst movie Sylvester Stallone has ever made. [3/10]

[X] Frank Stallone or Frank Stallone-esque Inspirational Music
[X] Incapacitates or Kills Someone With His Body
[X] Shows Off Buffness
[] Social Outcast
[] Sweaty, Veiny Yelling

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