“Somewhere in Queens”
Rotten Tomatoes (4/5), Letterboxd (4/5), Imdb.com (8/10), TMDB.com (4/5)
Genuinely funny family comedies – those without rampant silliness, obnoxiously cynical, smart-mouthed kids and saccharine-encrusted coatings – have become a rarity in recent years, but, fortunately, this debut feature from actor-writer-director Ray Romano has breathed some new life in this genre. This film about a blue collar New York construction worker (Romano) follows his loving efforts to help out his painfully shy but gifted 18-year-old son (Jacob Ward) earn a college basketball scholarship in an effort to help him stave off a future that’s likely to be disappointingly identical to his own. However, despite his earnest, heartfelt gestures, he ends up creating more issues than he bargained for, some of which threaten to saddle his tight-knit Italian family with more headaches and hurt than expected. The result is a delightful though far from sappy offering very much in the mode of comedies they generally don’t make any more. The film is chock full of hilarious one-liners from a smartly written script that’s executed with snappy direction, steadily paced editing and fine acting, especially in the award-worthy performance of Laurie Metcalf as the athletic prodigy’s mother. The picture also presents one of the best send-ups of New York Italian family life since “Moonstruck” (1987), raucous without becoming riddled with stereotypes. To be sure, a few story threads could have been better cut out or scaled back, but, on balance, “Somewhere in Queens” serves up a charming, entertaining offering with a number of unexpected twists and turns to keep the material fresh and lively. The film may not have received much fanfare with its limited theatrical release earlier this year, but, thankfully, it’s available for streaming online and more satisfying than a big bowl of pasta. Abbondanza!