Mighty Fine: Debbie Goodstein’s Sappy Nostalgia


As Mighty Fine‘s Joe Fine, a businessman who relocates his family from Brooklyn to Louisiana in
1974, Chazz Palminteri rages at everything and anything: at wife Stella (Andie MacDowell) for burning his dinner, at younger daughter Natalie (Jodelle Ferland) for crying over Joe’s desire to have their dying dog put down, at older daughter Maddie (Rainey Qualley) for liking boys, and at his business partner (Arthur J. Nascarella) for advising Joe against taking mob loans to prop up a faltering manufacturing operation. It’s a veritable festival of fury in Debbie Goodstein’s semiautobiographical tale, which despite being narrated by Natalie—who must eventually learn to overcome her fear of public speaking through poetry about her scary paterfamilias—is mainly a showcase for Palminteri to repeatedly let loose on the women in his life. Any relationship between Stella’s Holocaust-survival experiences and her willingness to put up with Joe’s anger are, like Natalie’s fascination with Anne Frank, left undeveloped; Mighty Fine is too busy watching Joe threaten teens with his cars and rifles. The mood is generally melodramatic and ends as mushy, aided by the soft-focus cinematography that drenches it all in melancholic nostalgia.