Sorely overlooked since its release in 1990, My Blue Heaven holds up today as an absolute joy from start to finish. It's a standard "fish out of water" scenario, made all the more enjoyable by the nature of the fish and what he tries to get up to in his new environment. Star Steve Martin may be slightly miscast, most notably when his accent keeps wavering, but he makes up for that during the many moments when he can be more . . . . . . . . Steve Martin-like.
Martin plays Vincent Antonelli, a former mobster who is now under witness protection. Unfortunately, and much to the chagrin of FBI agent Barney Coopersmith (Rick Moranis), Vincent finds it difficult to adjust to life in a corner of white-picket-fence Americana. He's also a compulsive liar, or so it seems. It's hard to stay angry at the man, however, when he has such a surprisingly good heart. Even when he's upsetting Hannah Stubbs (Joan Cusack) he tries to make the best of the situation.
Directed by Herbert Ross, and written by Nora Ephron, My Blue Heaven is a nice, old-fashioned kind of comedy, with a smattering of bad language to keep Vincent Antonelli somewhat plausible as a main character. Martin may not be the strongest element, which is unusual for a comedy vehicle in which he's one of the main stars, but that's not a problem thanks to the great support from Moranis, Cusack, Bill Irwin, Carol Kane and William Hickey (not a large role, by any means, but I am always happy to see Hickey onscreen).
There aren't any major set-pieces, but that's not a problem either. This is a character piece, a look at two men and what they can bring out in one another. Martin and Moranis together create easy, enjoyable chemistry and provide viewers with a superior modern bromance before the word had been created and bandied around.
Unlike many of his '80s movies, this isn't a film that will automatically get a pass from every Martin film. That's a shame, because I think it's almost as good as any of his other major hits from the decade that saw him star in so many comedy greats.