Geena Davis gives a sexy, scrappy performance as Angie Scacciapensieri, a tart-tongued street goddess from Bensonhurst, N.Y. Angie refuses to marry Vinnie (James Gandolfini), the Italian stallion who knocks her up. Screenwriter Todd Graff (Used People) tailored the role of Angie for Madonna, which seems like better casting than the choice of Davis, a statuesque Massachusetts WASP who doesn't exactly blend in on the streets of Brooklyn. But Davis can act, even with the accent, and she can nail a laugh and break your heart in a flash. What she can't do is save this romance from sinking in soap-opera suds.
The plot veers wildly between whimsy and angst. Davis is most at ease trading quips with Vinnie and her best friend, Tina (Aida Turturro). She even sets off sparks with Stephen Rea (The Crying Game) as Noel, a mop-topped lawyer who thinks pregnant women are hot stuff. Then Graff lowers the doom boom. The baby is born handicapped; Noel turns rat; Angie searches for her lost mother. Director Martha Coolidge, so adept at nurturing the feminist subtext in Rambling Rose, tries to show Angie finding strength in adversity. It's no go. In the end, the cliches shout down Angie's truth.