A Wake in Providence

Mix equal parts of Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, Guess Who, Eulogy, and throw in a bit of Mambo Italiano to get A Wake in Providence, yet another movie about insane families. What, never heard of the last two? They were smaller, independent movies, with the former including an insanely talented cast. Neither really went anywhere, and that will most likely be the fate of A Wake in Providence. It's not because it is an exceptionally good or bad movie (it's a little south of okay), it's just because it's profile isn't high enough, and it isn't original enough. It also wallows in those Italian stereotypes that are right on the border between funny and offensive.

Anthony (Vincent Pagano, Jesus, Mary and Joey) and Alissa (Victoria Rowell, Black Listed, Fraternity Boys) are happily in love. He has yet to introduce her to his family, and when he receives a phone call saying that his grandfather died, he decides to take her home to Providence with him. The problem is that his family is Italian. Really Italian. Italian like those families in the Olive Garden commercials. And while they may not have anything against blacks, they do not want a member of their family dating anyone other than a full-blooded Italian. Fully aware of this, Anthony has not told anybody Alissa's ethnicity.

A Wake in Providence shifts uneasily between a comedy and a drama. Director Rosario Roveto Jr. and screenwriters Pagano, Michael Pagano, Billy Van Zandt, and Jane Milmore falter when approaching the comedy, which typically consists of goofy minor characters and episodic-like jaunts. Van Zandt and Milmore have some experience with sitcoms, and there is a very sitcom-ish feel to these proceedings. They fare better when dealing seriously with the issue of interracial relations. Pagano and Rowell have some very good scenes together. Pagano claims that he loves Alissa, but Alissa counters that he failed to tell his family about her, and worse, fails to stand up for her in front of his family. He knows this is wrong, but seems to be in fear of the favor of his relatives.

But like Guess Who, this is not a drama, it is primarily a comedy. And it is one where the stereotypes are pretty gentle. There are some truly random things, like a revelation about Anthony's brother Frankie (Michael Pagano). The point with this, two moronic cousins, crazy aunts, and advice giving cabbies, is to reinforce the weirdness of Anthony's family. They family cares for him, but is expressing it the wrong way. They really are good people deep down, and it's not a big stretch to assume that they will make a change for the better by the end of the film. A Wake in Providence ends the way one would expect it to, with an emotional monologue from Anthony. However, without giving too much away, it comes at a very odd time (think of Ben Affleck in Bounce). Sure, it packs an emotional punch, but take a step back, and the context it arrives in is plain ridiculous. This specific scene knocked the rating down a notch.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 34 minutes, Rated R for language and some sexual content.

Back to Movies