Eye For Film >> Movies >> Mambo Italiano (2003) Film Review
Angelo is a regular twentysomething, living in Montreal and dreaming of making it big as a screenwriter. Problem is, he's not very good. He writes a corny pastiche of Gone With The Wind and thinks it's his hot ticket to stardom. A no-nonsense TV executive takes one look and tells him it's the worst script he's ever seen. Angelo vows to never to write another word, but that's the least of his worries. He's Italian, and he's gay. And his parents are about to find out.
This is a gentle comedy about identity and self-expression and having the balls to tell your folks you're gay. Angelo's old-world parents react as you'd expect. They might have emigrated to Canada years ago, but their Italian roots run deep and no son of theirs is going to be gay - or, as Angelo's mother hisses, "Homosessual". Their main concern, of course, is not Angelo and whether he's gay or straight or both, but what the neighbours in their close-knit Italian community will say.
The film works best when it's doing this, poking fun at the antiquated values of old world Italy. His father (the ever-reliable Paul Sorvino) is mortified when Angelo comes out, but later, in an amusing game of one-upmanship with the gloating mother of Angelo's ex, a cop named Nino, he does a strict about turn. Not only is Angelo gay, but, goddamnit, he's gayer than Nino. In fact, he's the gayest man in Montreal! In all of Canada! No one has ever been gayer than Angelo and dad wants everyone to know it.
Angelo isn't so sure. Nino, not only leaves him, but leaves him for a woman. To add insult to injury, he then announces he's getting married. Ever the outsider, Angelo is once again on his own. We see his first foray into the crowded, predatory bars of the gay village, his head down, avoiding eye contact as he tries to blend in. What's wrong with him? He's gay, he's in a bar full of gay men and he still feels out of place.
Later, he walks into a gay helpline and, despite his own failings, offers his services. He's a hopeless writer, but an even worse counsellor. He bursts out laughing when one caller unloads her problems on him. Another, a lost soul who just wants to talk, is accidentally cut off mid-sentence.
The script (Steve Galluccio, Emile Gaudreault) does more or less what it's supposed to do most of the time. It has a beginning, a middle, an end and is sporadically funny, although lacks bite, and there are too many safe options. Angelo's neurotic older sister (Claudia Ferri) and Nino's over-protective mother (Mary Walsh) are straight out of Central Casting - do we really need those scenes in which Angelo's sister visits a shrink? Analyse This and The Sopranos have already been there, done that and done it much better.
Thank heavens for Mark Camacho's foul-mouthed TV executive. He's on screen all of five minutes - mostly at the end, in a wonderful expletive-drenched rant - but he steals the show.Reviewed on: 01 Oct 2004