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Mambo Italiano

Starring Luke Kirby, Paul Sorvino, Ginette Reno, Peter Miller, Sophie Lorain, Tim Post
Written by Emile Gaudreault and Steve Galluccio
Based on the play "Mambo Italiano" by Steve Galluccio
Directed by Emile Gaudreault

IN SHORT: My Big Fat Italian not necessarily heterosexual Wedding. [Rated R for language and sexual situations. 88 minutes]

Ethnic humor vanished from the movie biz when it was rightfully decided that having non-ethnics write gags, which was how it all started in the radio days, was not cool. Neither were some of the gags themselves which, as we all know from summer camp on up through hanging out at the local bar, bordered on flat out racist. That devolved into the PC vs non-PC nonsense and it all hit a low point just before Nia Vardalos wrote My Big Fat Greek Wedding -- whose publicist screened it once and told us, when we were unable to make that screening, "Don't worry about it. It'll be gone in a week." That publicist is long gone and Wedding became a word of mouth phenomena.

We spent our first days in the media biz during the PC times, and so had most of our love of ethnic stuff stomped out of us. We settle any possible misgivings this way -- if the screenwriter is of the same group, fine. Steve Galluccio, original writer and co-writer of the film, is close enough to an Italian name that we're fine with this one. Like the aforementioned film, Mambo Italiano is funny enough to be a TV sitcom pilot. It's enjoyable and, once done, easily forgotten.

How Maria and Gino Barberini (Ginette Reno and Paul Sorvino) came to America in the 50s and wound up in Canada is the first joke that slips by in Mambo Italiano. It's not necessarily the funniest joke but it firmly establishes that Maria and Gino are, to be kind, simple people. Mambo Italiano then moves almost thirty years down the road to the awful day when son Angelo (Luke Kirby), who has not married, tells mama and papa that he is moving out of the house. This is an awful thing to an Italian family, as you only leave mama and papa when a) you marry or b) you die.

Angelo works the phones for a travel agent, though he harbors hope of becoming a TV writer. Mom and pop are dismayed by this choice. Angelo tells them that it's OK; that he's got a room mate and that room mate is his old school bud, Nino (Peter Miller), now a police officer. Mom and pop are less dismayed. What they don't know is that Angelo and Nino have discovered that childhood friendship means something more interesting when both men are gay. That ever hysterical closet shtick means, when the parental units make dinner plans to introduce their son to the eminently attractive Pina Lunetti (Sophie Lorain), hilarity ensues.

The whole story is laid out to us by a perplexed Angelo to gay help line operator Peter (Tim Post) who will find a place in the story as it nears conclusion, just around the time a twist involving the parents gives the ribs a good tickle.

Mambo Italiano is being sold as a gay comedy, which will pretty much kill it for those ticket buyers, like us, who are heterosexual. We think it's a dumb yet funny move. Yeah, guys kiss in this move. It's not sloppy and it's nothing you can't blink and miss if it really bothers you. Is it funny? Yep. That's what counts.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Mambo Italiano, he would have paid . . .


dateflick level.

amazon com link Click to buy films by Emile Gaudreault
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