Even DeNiro cannot save this limp rom-com

By Mark Kennedy | Related Press

Should you have been to resurrect the drained storyline of a younger couple having to satisfy their companions’ mother and father and have been trying round for somebody to play the gruff, disapproving future father-in-law, one title ought to undoubtedly not come out. Robert De Niro.

Sure, he’s hysterical as the extreme, no-nonsense, overprotective dad who’d make any suitor turned wide-eyed. Sure, he’s good at taking part in the position with the straightest of faces. We all know that as a result of he’s accomplished it to nice impact in “Meet the Mother and father.” Many instances.

And but “About My Father” brings out this revered Oscar-winner for a sloppy reprise of that position in a persistently unfunny rom-com that you just get the distinct feeling won’t be in theaters in any respect if he didn’t lend his deadpan glower.

Comic Sebastian Maniscalco has co-written and stars on this massive sloppy Italian American kiss about household that not solely leans into stereotypes — working-class Italians on one aspect, WASPs on the opposite — however plows the sphere with them.

Maniscalco performs a Chicago lodge supervisor in love with a rustic club-raised artist (performed by the always-smiling Leslie Bibb) who each have a lesson to study concerning the push and pull of blood. “The household is not only one factor. It’s every thing,” is the motto the Maniscalco clan reside by. It could have been a strong message in 1972.

Maniscalco’s youth was constructed on thrift due to his father, Salvo, performed by De Niro, a person who got here to Chicago from Sicily for a greater life and introduced with him a savage work ethic and a chip on his shoulder about wealth. He didn’t purchase his son a skateboard for Christmas, he made a janky one. Why does he love the Fourth of July? “It’s the one vacation you don’t have to purchase a present.”

On the opposite aspect is the Collins clan, who got here to America on the Mayflower. Mother (Kim Cattrall) is a U.S. senator and pa (David Rasche) is CEO of an opulent lodge group. They reside in a gated compound in Maryland with peacocks wandering round. “You need to see the home in Aspen,” mother says.

The plot activates a July 4th vacation assembly when the Maniscalco father and son go to the girlfriend’s household to suss one another out. Will Salvo be too good? Is he not making an attempt sufficient? May he be making an attempt to sabotage his son’s happiness? Is his son pretending to be somebody’s he’s not? Can all this be solved with some pasta and parmesan? Marone!

The conflict of cultures is straight away sturdy, largely mocking the kombucha-drinking, monogrammed pajamas-wearing and tennis-playing WASPs. (There’s additionally a Grandma Moses artwork joke for these nonetheless awake. Grandma Moses jokes slay.) The Maniscalcos have their very own quirks, like spritzing cologne at each second. The filmmakers — Laura Terruso directs from a script by Maniscalco and Austen Earl — have the meatballs to border all this as an immigrant story.

For many who miss “Meet the Mother and father,” there’s even a scene nearly lifted, as if relying on viewers being dim. The pool volleyball scene from the 2000 film — the place Ben Stiller will get too aggressive and painfully spikes on his girlfriend’s sister — has its equal when Maniscalco hits a tennis ball laborious into his girlfriend’s brother’s torso.

“About My Father” isn’t the one comedy vying to be the “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” of 2023. The yr began with Netflix’s “You Individuals,” starring Jonah Hill and Eddie Murphy, and that film, nevertheless flawed, handled race. “About My Father,” is about white individuals, and needs to be about class or privilege, nevertheless it’s not. It’s about embarrassment, denuding any potential depth.

Issues sag after which get bizarre on the finish, as this rom-com turns right into a rom-com the place the goal is dad. There’s even a running-to-the-airport scene when the penny drops for Salvo’s son. However you’ll have found out that this was a money seize lengthy earlier than that.

“About My Father”

1/2 star out of 4

Ranking: PG-13 (for suggestive materials, language and partial nudity)

Operating time: 89 minutes

Back to top button