Thursday, May 25, 2023

A father/son comedy that sinks

    Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco stars in About My Father, a comedy about a second generation Italian/American who wants to marry a Waspish young woman (Leslie Bibb). 
   The story's prospective fiancee identifies as an artists but makes paintings that illustrate little more than narrow imagination.  It risks overstating the case, but the same might be said of a movie that can’t escape its formulaic culture-clash arc.
  Sebastian's Sicilian immigrant father (Robert De Niro) built a life in Chicago as a hairdresser, a trade he still plies. 
   After a brief setup, De Niro's Salvo Maniscalco insists on  accompanying his wary son on a visit to meet the prospective in-laws, a preposterous group. Dad (David Rasche) runs a hotel Chaing. Mom (Kim Cattrall) is a US Senator. 
    Two brothers complete the cast of characters. One, an Ivy-League empty head (Anders Holm), has gone into the family business. The other (Brett Dier) aspires to be a spiritual healer, soothing himself by playing sound bowls. 
    Maniscalco, who wrote the screenplay with Austen Earl, slathers the story with class consciousness. Salvo insists that his son won’t fit into an upper-crust mold. He thinks his in-laws will view Sebastian as an intruder in a world of gated communities. 
   The major comic set piece, viewable in the trailer, tries to make a broad splash. On a yachting outing with his in-laws,  Sebastian dons  jet boots that propel him out of the ocean. His private parts are exposed (thankfully not to us) to the on-deck observers when his bathing suit slips.
   Directed by Laura Terruso,  About My Father gravitates toward such broad strokes as it moves toward its predictably sentimental ending. 
   De Niro probably could sleepwalk through these kind of comic roles but doesn’t. I guess that's something.
   Set during the course of a Fourth of July weekend, the movie’s main virtue is its brevity. About My Father lasts for one hour and 29 minutes.

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