Team Marco

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jane Fae

Team Marco
"Thumbs up to director Julio Vincent Gambuto for capturing one aspect of Italianicity abroad in New York."

Talk about getting your exposition in fast. The first minute of Team Marco, give or take 30 seconds or so, hands us a funeral – Marco’s aunt (the wife of his grandfather/”nonno”) has sadly passed away. A conversation about whether nonno (Anthony Patellis) can live on his own or might now need to move in with one of his daughter’s. And a load of attitude from the family junior, 11-year-old Marco (Owen Vaccaro), who is ever so slightly put out that he might have to abandon his tablet and online gaming for the chore of paying his last respects.

Also revealed, early on, are daddy issues. Marco’s parents are divorced/separated. His father (Louis Cancelmi) is a game designer: and he has promised Marco the trip of a lifetime to a gaming conference if he can reach level 100 on his game within the allotted time. All of which sets up a certain household tension with mum, Anna (Anastasia Ganias).

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What next? Nonno has to move in with Marco and mum, following a very predictable cooking accident. At the same time, there is much tutting at the gulf between the generations as the former endorses open air and healthy pastimes, while Marco wants nothing more than to stay home and game.

Yes, it is heavy handed, not least the contrast between grandfather and grandson. But maybe it is not especially overdone (I can attest to the lure of the online game, by virtue of having a young son in an age bracket not that far removed from Marco). Still, the narrative arc is set up early. Old fogey nonno with his love of his outdoors, physical game, bocce (related to bowls, boules and petanque). Young scallywag Marco, with his virtual gaming obsession. Conflict.Tension. Always, too, the possibility of a dramatic resolution in the form of reconciliation between the generations.

Add in the working out of tensions between Marco’s mum, his manipulative dad and finding his way in the classroom hierarchy.

There is a sense of painting by numbers to this film. Not overlooking the way it all turns slightly surreal at the end with a bocce match between Marco and his friends and nonno and his team to win back access to all his IT kit. The classic duel of the amateurs vs. experts.

Some aspects of the film do not work. For instance, the game in which Marco must prevail looks like a refugee from the 90s - quintessentially clunky. Also, a sense that at least half those turning up with Italian accent may not have acquired it naturally!

But there is some nice well-observed stuff, too, such as a scene of young people on their tablets that sums up all that is wrong (and perhaps also, right) with the world today.

In the end, I did not mind. There’s some laid on with a trowel message about the need for friendship. A real weepie of a scene at the end, featuring not madeleines – but rainbow cookies. It is hardly a spoiler to say all ends well. Sort of. Even if there are some tears along the way.

Thumbs up to director Julio Vincent Gambuto for capturing one aspect of Italianicity abroad in New York. Also, top marks to Vaccaro for delivering the role of stroppy almost-teenager with just the right mix of angry self-assertiveness and awe.

The film is currently available on VoD in the US

Reviewed on: 30 Nov 2020
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Team Marco packshot
Young Marco is obsessed with playing video games and hardly leaves the house. But when his grandfather moves in, Marco’s life is turned upside-down and he’s forced...to go play outside. Nonno introduces him to bocce, leading Marco to round up a team of his own.

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