Oscar goes for the screwball comedy angle, and although it is able to grasp the style with a satirical edge and a sense of energy, the material itself is actually inconsistent in humour. In attempting to use the genre to parody a gangster concept, yet instead of being a smart satire or a clever use of an old but popular genre, Oscar ends up going for a PG angle with minimal swearing, slapstick and not even an attempt to follow its gangster themes up with anything which ensures that it ends up as a childish comedy. Even though John Landis is the director and he is the notorious creator of edgy comedies such as National Lampoon's Animal House and The Blues Brothers, Oscar is merely an overblown and inconsistent film which serves as the first example of his 1990's downfail.
As common with screwball comedy films, there are many characters in Oscar who all have different relationships which pile up to add comedic virtue. Unfortunately, in Oscar it ends up being too much to keep up with. There are so many characters, so many relationships and so many subplots that it just left me in a state of disbelief in attempting to comprehend it all. And while I laughed sporadically over the course of the film, as a whole I found the experience to be tame and juvenile in a way that really failed to match up to any of John Landis' superior works. His role in the production of the film was decent because his directorial work was stylish enough to give Oscar a certain visual flair, but the script itself does not match up to his level of expertise and so he is left with middling quality material to work with. His touch of style manages to be the only effective aspect of the film outside of the cast.
The cinematography in the film follows a classical style which matches the genre. It always takes conventional angles which give it a nostalgic look, and it works to the film's benefit by also capturing the beauty of the production design and scenery of Oscar's limited setting. The finely detailed setting of Oscar is emphasized very well with strong cinematography and cast members that interact with it easily in a manner to make the setting and the cultural context of the characters seem legitimate enough.
The musical score in Oscar is also key to establishing the themes of the genre. With a consistently lighthearted sense of silliness to it, Oscar has music which illuminates the mood appropriately. It has very nice composition and makes the atmosphere thoroughly giddy in Oscar. It is a lighthearted and silly film which is scared to break new ground or get creative, but as a tame film it has a certain level of effective style to it which gives it a sense of visual splendour. The experience is a nostalgic one for fans of the Screwball Comedy genre, and though it is not the creative throwback that The Coen Brothers' The Hudsucker Proxy was, it still remains a good looking film with the appropriate atmosphere and imagery for the genre at the expense of a valuable script.
The cast in Oscar manage to manage to mostly give it some level of life.
Sylvester Stallone's performance is decent. It isn't particularly funny, but he manages to keep up with the screwball comedy nature of the film by delivering his lines in a classical manner. In a satirical send up of his tough guy image, Sylvester Stallone takes on the lead role in Oscar by portraying a former gangster attempting to go straight in a role which fits the profile in its balance of being over the top and subtle at the same time. He acts out the role in a manner which seems physically legitimate though his line delivery goes for a more melodramatic angle. He's no Joe Pesci, but seeing the legendary action hero go for such a ridiculously stereotypical comedic archetype should hopefully please fans.
Marisa Tomei is not a good cast member in Oscar. Though her career was redeemed the following year when she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for My Cousin Vinny, Oscar is not a good front for her comic virtues. She plays an archetype so heavily that there is minimal creativity in what she can do with the role, and so all she does is complain the entire film which means that she gets unlikable fast. Considering that I have never found Marisa Tomei to be anything but likable in all her other films than Oscar, it is a good thing that she got this Golden Raspberry Award nominated performance out of the way before her later career.
Ornella Muti approaches her role in Oscar as if it were a soap opera which shows her going consistently over the top in the role. While much of the material around her is tame, Ornella Muti really pushes her energy into the role and it pays off because her over the top nature really establishes her character as a funny one while her Italian nationality makes her seem all the more legitimate. Ornella Muti is a strong casting decision in Oscar, and her consistent energy really lights things up.
Even though his screen time is very small, Tim Curry does his part. In once again portraying his stereotypical character of a comedic suit, Tim Curry makes himself a welcome presence in a gangster themed screwball comedy like Oscar. His awkward charm is good for his interactions with the surrounding cast and he fits the profile of his role easily. Tim Curry is fun to see on board.
But even though the cast is mostly a talented crew and John Landis' role as director ensures that Oscar is stylish in following its screwball comedy roots, but with the screenplay being so tame and scattered, the film is largely doomed from the start.
Stallone plays a dorky ex-mob boss whom, subsequent to his father's death, is on the verge of leading a life without the proper endeavours needed for business within the mob.
Stallone plays Angelo 'Snaps' Provolone. A mob boss who kept his word to his recently deceased father that he would leave his life in the mob behind and start over.
From this point onwards the screenplay is overfilled with spontaneous ideas to make the story appear good, and as silly as it can get it's still quite an enjoyable movie and reasonably funny. It wouldn't be one of the best comedies, but certainly not the worst. It's got lot of dialogue that keeps the comedy going, and with Stallone's accent it goes well for portraying a silly mob boss like Provolone.
Story of Gangster (Stallone) who father dies and his last promise is to now live a 'straight' life.
It's hard to see the films strengths due to the comedy being so laboured. Some of the costumes & sets are pretty neat. Definitely not one of the jewels of Stallone's career.