THE BIRTHDAY CAKE – Review by Susan Granger

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There may be a great deal of competition in this category, but I nominate Jimmy Giannopoulos’ The Birthday Cake as the worst mob movie ever made!

Set in Brooklyn, it begins with the 10th anniversary of Giovanni’s father’s death. Giovanni (Shiloh Fernandez) dutifully goes home and dons a suit to continue the family tradition of delivering the titular cake, baked by his widowed mother Sophia (Lorraine Bracco), to the home of his Uncle Angelo (Val Kilmer), the local Italian/American Mafia boss.

Festive lights mark the month as December, near Christmas, as Gio makes a couple of stops, including a brief flirtation with Diane (Clara McGregor) and an interlude in church with friendly Father Kelly (Ewan McGregor).

Everyone is trying to locate Gio’s bad-tempered cousin Leo (Emory Cohen), recently released from prison and perhaps involved with drug-dealing, which alerts the FBI to inquire his whereabouts.

Then there’s a memorable ride with a Puerto-Rican taxi driver (Luis Guzman), along with a cameo appearance by Marla Maples (Donald Trump’s ex-wife).

Once he arrives at Uncle Angelo’s, Gio is surrounded by family: ailing Uncle Carmine (Paul Sorvino), Uncle Ricardo (William Fichtner) and Uncle Tiny Tony (Nick Vallelonga).

(Unable to use his voice because of an ongoing battle with throat cancer, Val Kilmer’s lines are subtitled, but his presence is still charismatic).

Director/composer Jimmy Giannopoulos wrote the cliché-riddled screenplay with Diomedes Raul Bermudez & Shiloh Fernandez. He’s linked romantically with Scottish model/actress Clara McGregor, which may explain why he was able to cast her father Ewan McGregor, who, apparently, filmed only three days to complete his pivotal role.

(A while ago, Clara staged a public spat when Ewan divorced her mother, Eve Mavrakis, to be with his Fargo co-star Mary Elizabeth Winstead, with whom he now has a child.)

Gossip aside: If you wanna see a coherent crime movie, try one from Guy Ritchie or Martin Scorsese.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, The Birthday Cake is a tediously nonsensical 2, available on DVD and streaming on Prime Video, Apple TV and Vudu. But don’t waste your time.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.