City Island (Review)

(4/02/10; Drama, Comedy)
Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies, Steven Strait, Emily Mortimer, Dominik García-Lorido, Alan Arkin
SCR/DIR: Raymond De Felitta
MPAA: PG-13 for sexual content, smoking and language.
1 hour 43 mins
BOX: $4,531,275

The Rizzos are an argumentative Bronx family filled with secrets. Dad Vince (Garcia) is a correctional officer who really wants to be an actor; hothead wife Joyce (Margulies) cannot hide her disdain for the course her life has taken; son Vince Jr. (Miller) is a disaffected kid more interesting in chubby girl porn than high school; and daughter Vivian (García-Lorido, Garcia’s daughter) is a pole dancer.

This “normalcy” is shattered when dad brings home a prisoner (Strait) after an acting class assignment to reveal his greatest secret (the thug is his estranged son). Garcia and Margulies lead a strong ensemble and every scene crackles with tension and wit. It all comes down to one of those scenes in which the entire family fights through layers of comedic misunderstandings to reach the truth but by that point, the movie has earned it.

Alas, City Island was barely released and suffered from a lame title but managed to nail down the most elusive thing that ensemble comedies always miss: even while they were lying, cheating and generally treating each other horribly, I liked them all and rooted for them.

Bonus: Arkin is an acting teacher raging against method acting and he’s hysterical. (Anchor Bay)


Author: Dennis Willis

Dennis Willis is an award-winning producer, TV host, producer, director, editor (he preferred Avid until a torrid affair with Adobe Premiere, and the rest is history), author and film critic (print and radio). Dennis produced and hosted the TV programs Reel Life, FilmTrip, Soundwaves (1983-2008) and produces the annual Soundwaves Xmas program. He is currently the film critic on KGO Radio in San Francisco, and a member of both the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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