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Overall Rating
4.3

Awesome54.55%
Worth A Look: 36.36%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 3.03%
Total Crap: 6.06%

1 review, 27 user ratings


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Mambo Italiano
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by Scott Weinberg

"...or, My Big Gay Italian Wedding."
4 stars

Pundits claim that there's nothing new under the sun; that there are a relatively finite number of stories out there worth telling, and we've long since told them all by now. If this theory holds true, then the best that moviegoers can hope for is some simple breath of fresh life with each successive retelling. And that's pretty much what "Mambo Italiano" has to offer: a whole lot of familiar pieces, all glued together quite neatly and delivered in a funny, breezy package.

Take the "insular and exaggerated culture clash" schpiel that was apparently (and rather mysteriously) so popular in last year's My Big Fat Greek Wedding and combine it with an indie-style "gay men dealing with the closet" comedy; whip 'em both into a fine paste and throw in a big dash of Franco-Canadianism...and this is the result: Mambo Italiano, a film that coasts over its shortcomings through sheer force of goodwill and a director who thankfully knows how to frame a gag.

Our hero is Angelo, an charming-yet-nerdly Italian/Canadian guy who (in his early 20s) is coming to terms with his homosexuality. Aside from the manic and handwringing protests from his old-school-Italian Mama and Papa, Angelo seems to be acclimating to his discovery quite easily. That Angelo finds himself in a lusty affair with bestest childhood buddy Nino (the same guy who ignored Angelo all through high school) makes the transition even more comfortable...except for Mama & Papa and those goshdarned old-fashioned cultural values.

Angelo's sister is quite helpful and somewhat understanding, but when the parents start devising a collection of schemes intended to turn him "straight" (with the canoodling assistance of Nino's keening mother), things go from sunshine to thundercloud in short order.

Second feature from Emile Goudreault (Wedding Night) and based on Steve Galluccio's popular stage play, Mambo Italiano is to be commended for the light and refreshingly matter-of-fact tone it applies to the plight of culturally-beleaguered homosexuals. Plus it's quite funny. Much can be said for any film that tries to shine some mainstream light onto a subject generally discussed in hushed tones, but what's most impressive is that the filmmakers seem to be going for Romantic Comedy first - and Topical Issue Flick second or third. Much like last year's excellent Kissing Jessica Stein, Goudreault's comedy is not content to be pigeonholed as a "gay flick" but simply aspires to keep an audience laughing...while addressing its own agenda in the broadest and most accessible fashion.

Luke Kirby (Lost and Delirious) is great as Angelo, bringing a Neighborhood Drinking Buddy attitude to a role that's trickier to pull off than the film's fluffy nature might imply. As Angelo's long-suffering Sicilian Mom & Pop, Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas) and Mary Walsh (New Waterford Girl) are simply a whole lot of fun. Sure, Sorvino's accent wavers between the apt and the absurd at various points, but Mambo Italiano is so packed to the gills with intentionally broad caricatures that the lovable old guy fits right in. Walsh comes off like a funny Italian version of Joan Plowright while stealing a handful of scenes for her very own.

It would be easy to dismiss "Mambo Italiano" as simply a Greek Wedding/Gay Issue/Italian Family amalgam - and in many ways that's obviously a fair assessment. But if you're going to offer the masses something that feels a whole lot like a bunch of other flicks out there, you should try to do it with some care, some craftsmanship and some sincerity. Despite its often-familiar trappings, "Mambo Italiano" delivers all three with impressive consistency.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8186&reviewer=128
originally posted: 09/22/03 16:03:01
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/12/08 Polly Unsaturated Will make you laugh & cry! An EXCELLENT film! 5 stars
5/06/07 Jordan Bergereau it has everything plus incredibly funny. 5 stars
12/26/06 Vincent As a Gay Italian I say the film is realistic. Loved seeing a gay film from an Italian view! 5 stars
4/19/05 John Smith Shit 1 stars
2/01/05 Wendy S. Wildly funny and sweet 4 stars
10/05/04 John O'Driscoll Total crap! Patronising, riddled with stereoptypes and about as funny as polio 1 stars
7/17/04 Harry J For me, this was a waste of time. Didn't even watch to the end. 2 stars
4/06/04 S.F. Light, enjoyable, entertaining... 4 stars
3/14/04 Sasha AWESOME 5 stars
3/03/04 John holt I loved it. It was fantastic to see a gay movie. 5 stars
12/08/03 Carlos Instigating, Extremely Funny, Well done 4 stars
11/17/03 Zeus excellent movie.. touched on issues.. easy to relate to.. makes perfect sense.. 5 stars
11/15/03 Dade Loved it all... 'cept Nino shoulda died... 5 stars
11/12/03 xxx much more funnier if ur italian!!! 4 stars
11/11/03 Zaharin Hamid aka The Movie Samseng I laughed my ass off! An excellant feel good comedy. 5 stars
11/07/03 Harisk Loved it - so related to the American/gay/Italian background - so damn realistic & funny- 5 stars
11/06/03 Jay Funny movie, and without being sleazy. 4 stars
11/05/03 Angie Soooo funny! I can relate to the melodrama of Italian families, my father's Italian 5 stars
11/05/03 Michael Golojuch, Jr. A must see! Fun for the whole "family" 5 stars
11/03/03 you smell like shit asshole you smell like shit asshole 5 stars
11/03/03 Francesco a brilliant comedy! A bit of self-irony for Italians abroad (like me) 5 stars
11/01/03 Morgan Very funny film... A must see 5 stars
11/01/03 Leo I thought the movie was great!! They need to start making more gay movies in hollywood. 5 stars
10/19/03 Alex Lots of fun! Very broad humor! 5 stars
10/06/03 Chuck Carlentine Best gay comedy I've ever seen 5 stars
9/28/03 Darrell Funny and interesting 5 stars
9/22/03 Mr Chan very funny movie 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  26-Sep-2003 (R)
  DVD: 17-Feb-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  23-Oct-2003




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