Eye For Film >> Movies >> Mambo Italiano (2003) Film Review
This is the kind of film that ITV screens at 2am on a Tuesday night, when there hasn't been any highlight-worthy sporting action.
The warning signs are there from the start - flashbacks to happier days of dancing and manic laughter, a jaunty soundtrack straight from the 'Italian atmosphere' compilation CD, lengthy explanations through a charmless voiceover in sarcasm-lite, and far too many phone conversations. Any unease felt in the first few minutes is wholly vindicated when you hear lines like, "So... what exactly are you saying?" It looks as if it was made for TV and everything is spelled out to such a degree that you can only assume it is targeted at morons.
Mambo Italiano is a rom-com about gay Italian-Canadians in denial. That's about it really. Angelo is a wannabe-screenwriter who lives with his cop boyfriend and childhood friend Nino. Their old-fashioned parents think they're just pals, until the pressure of leading a double life gets too much for nerdy Angelo and he lets the cat out of the bag. Nobody is very happy to hear about his new-found love and macho Nino resents being outed when he's spent his whole life pretending to be a stereotypical Italian Stallion. Cue much hilarity.
It's adapted from a successful play but where My Big Fat Greek Wedding made the transition from stage to screen seem easy, this is just a substandard cash-in. Every scene feels familiar, every joke drags on too long. It's all so lame that Paul Sorvino's presence is a mystery, and there won't be any Oscar nominations until overacting becomes recognised as an art form in itself. There are amiable hints dropped about deeper, darker family secrets which could have been exploited to give it some edge, but these are glossed over in favour of more dancing and laughing flashbacks. Yay.
Dreadful though this film is, they deserve a round of applause for being brave enough to make a family comedy about issues that are usually sidelined by all but the art house sector. It's just a shame it isn't any good.Reviewed on: 26 Jul 2005