Mambo Italiano

Simplistic stereotypes of Italians run rampant through movies. So do simplistic stereotypes of gays and lesbians. For anybody under a rock who is not familiar with them, Mambo Italiano is a good primer in them. It actually takes both sets of stereotypes and combines them into one big fairly unpalatable film. Well, film is probably too complimentary a word. Mambo Italiano plays like a mediocre television sitcom, and considering that most sitcoms aren't that good to begin with, it's not a good thing. The characters are loud, obnoxious, and stupid. What makes things worse is that they are so flat and uninteresting. Lots of screaming and gesticulating with heavy Italian accents is not funny. At least they didn't try to incorporate cooking into the film.

The joke is that the Italian community is insular and conservative. This is not a great thing for Angelo (Luke Kirby, Lost and Delirious, Halloween: Resurrection), who is gay. He already made the big decision to move out of his house, which is scandalous enough. He is living with Nino (Peter Miller), a childhood friend he recently caught up with. Everybody believes the two are just friends. Angelo decides to come out of the closet, which results in lots of annoying histrionics. Angelo's parents Gino (Paul Sorvino, See Spot Run, Hey Arnold!) and Maria (Ginette Reno, It's Your Turn, Laura) to go off the deep edge. Worse, they tell Nino's mother Lina (Mary Walsh, Violet, The Divine Ryans), which causes even more controversy. Meanwhile, Angelo's sister Anna (Claudia Ferri, Stardom, Soother) copes by popping valium and hopping from shrink to shrink.

Nino doesn't like how Angelo made everything public. He preferred staying in the closet, and now that everybody knows, he is having second thoughts. So when high school acquaintance Pina (Sophie Lorain, Stardom, Alice's Odyssey) begins making moves towards him, he needs to think twice before giving an answer. All the while, watching Sorvino and Reno go through no-stop histrionics gets tiresome quickly. By the time Mambo Italiano gets ready to wrap up, no one care anymore what happens to Angelo. He is going through things that only people in movies and television go through. This has little bearing on real life, and the comedy does not make up for the artificiality.

Kirby is a genial enough actor, and it is nice seeing some unfamiliar faces (most of the actors have a decent amount of experience in Canada, eh). Mambo Italiano was directed and adapted by Emile Gaudreault (Wedding Night) from Steve Galluccio's play. The only thing missing is an annoying laugh track. Everybody is running around, overacting and generally being very ignorant. All of it is played for laughs, and to Gaudreault's credit, there is some heart in the film. Given that so many people seem to enjoy simplistic comedy like what is presented here, Mambo Italiano may have a bright future after all.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 39 minutes, Rated R for language and sexual situations.

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