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Review: Wisegal (2008)

Director: Jerry Ciccoritti | 85 minutes | drama, biography, crime | Actors: Alyssa Milano, Jason Gedrick, James Caan, Alessandro Costantini, Devon Graye, Tommy Lioutas, Zak Longo, Heather Hanson, Anthony Melchiorri, Gina Wilkinson, Tulsi Balram, Sandra Crljenica, Alvaro D’Antonio, Sima Fisher, Gabriel Hogan,

Why is it that movies based on a true story are so often unbelievable? Take “Wisegal”. Inspired by the life of one Patty Mechiorri, a housemother who took to the streets after peeling the pagers to sell contraband for the mafia. In “Wisegal”, Patty is not called Mechiorri but Montanari and is played by Alyssa Milano, an actress who, since her role in “Who’s the Boss”, seems doomed to appearing in 13-in-a-dozen productions like this one. Patty is a real go-getter, the voice-over tells us. Although she has no experience or connections at first, she is already a factor to be reckoned with within the underworld.

It doesn’t take much to bring hardened mafiosi to their knees. Patty smiles and blinks. A tough speech can also help. In a world where every wrong step can mean death and gangsters are ordered to kill their own relatives, everyone melts for the charm of this single mother. She not only has balls, but also a heart of gold. And her family always comes first, that goes without saying. Selling stolen cigarettes, smuggling money for a mob boss, she ends up doing it all for the kids.

The story of a house mother who goes down the criminal path has been told before and better. In 2000’s Traffic, plays a pregnant woman who discovers that her husband has a double life as a drug lord. When he ends up in prison, she takes drastic measures to protect her family. The brave mummy turns out to be a tough aunt. That makes an impression. “Wisegal” romanticizes gangster life. Although the voice-over warns the viewer against the devil called organized crime, life as a money smuggler seems particularly exciting. The kind of existence that women fantasize about when the kids whine and yet another bill hits the mat. Okay, bad things come your way, but they can be solved quite easily. As long as you have balls. And a heart of gold.

You cannot blame Alyssa Milano that Patty Montanari is not a credible character, because she stands her ground. In fact, she’s one of the few reasons to watch “Wisegal” at all. If only to see how, as a well-preserved person in his thirties, she plays a convincing teen version of herself without applying Benjamin Button-like tricks.

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