Picks and Pans Review: Spike of Bensonhurst

updated 11/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

Imagine a right-wing, law-and-order farce. Imagine a male model wielding a bat to clean out crack dealers from the urban slums. Imagine Billy Jack as shot by glamour photographer Richard Avedon. Imagine these, and perhaps you'll get some idea of what's afoot in this hot-looking, half-baked satire from director-writer Paul (Mixed Blood) Morrissey, a veteran of the Andy Warhol Factory. Boxer Spike Fumo, surprisingly well-played by Click model Sasha Mitchell, lives in a Mafia-dominated Brooklyn neighborhood where he regularly throws fights at the mob's behest. Spike's dad (Frank Gio) has taken a prison rap for the local don, a blustery Ernest Borgnine. Spike's mom, the hilarious Geraldine Smith, has taken a lesbian lover and doesn't think her Spike is good enough for the don's slutty daughter (Maria Pitillo), whom he has impregnated. Spike is soon banished to a slum area in Red Hook, where he beats up crack pushers, organizes his own fights and also impregnates a Puerto Rican beauty, gorgeously embodied by model Talisa Soto. Mob violence ultimately straightens this crooked Spike into a responsible if unlikely family man. Morrissey succeeds at making us laugh at a world that's so cut off from traditional values that the Mafia is the closest thing around to a real family. But his style-over-substance approach fails to achieve a higher goal of satire: The laughter should stick in our throats. (R)

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