This is such a funny movie, but not in the obvious slapstick or toilet humor vein that passes for modern movie comedy nowadays. In this spoof of the Mafia and an attempted "hostile takeover", the humor is dark, sometimes subtle, with hilarity that simmers just under the surface. It helps to know something about Italian families---both regular and criminal---, but this movie is painfully funny nevertheless, much in the same way as the great British series "Fawlty Towers". This is a very 70's type of comedy, demanding that the viewer have an attention span and a sharp eye for detail. Like British and other genre comedies, it may not be for everyone, but we found it very enjoyable.
The cast is terrific: Jerry Orbach is perfect for the part of the luckless Sally Palumbo, Jo Van Fleet gives an incredible performance as his creepy mother, Leigh Taylor-Young is both tough and sweet as his little sister, and a young Robert DeNiro is superb as the con-artist Mario. The others, including Herve Villechaize, Lionel Stander, Joe Stantos and Frank Campanella, are all great and there isn't a bad actor in the wide array of supporting players. The story line is also well-written, taking the viewer on one sick and crazy ride through the bowels of both the Mafia and a "typical" Italian family---and who can say which is worse?
Pay close attention when watching this; some jokes are more readily apparent than others. Our personal favorites included: the panties' check done on the little sister by the neighborhood thugs as she heads for school (After which they report to her mother that, yes, she's wearing them.), the attempted knife-throw that cuts the power line, the professional mourner at the funerals, the demolitions expert who gets blown up by the cops using their radio to report his suspicious activity, and Sally Palumbo feeding his pet lion the wrong brown paper bag. The list could go on for a mile, but we don't want to spoil things for folks who have never seen this movie.
In summary, this is a great example of a 70's dark comedy in which whatever can go wrong for this hapless gang will go wrong. If you prefer slapstick or obvious humor, you may not like this film, but most people should find it at least reasonably enjoyable. We felt like we got more than our money's worth, if only to get a look at DeNiro when he was a kid. "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight" is a wonderfully good time, well-written and well-acted.