About My Father
Posted on May 25, 2023 at 5:32 pmB-
|Lowest Recommended Age:||High School|
|MPAA Rating:||Rated PG-13 for Language, suggestive material, partial nudity|
|Alcohol/ Drugs:||Social drinking, references to drug use|
|Violence/ Scariness:||Comic peril and violence, pet killed and eaten|
|Diversity Issues:||A theme of the movie|
|Date Released to Theaters:||May 26, 2023|
Sebastian Maniscalco’s stand-up routines about his immigrant father are very funny. The transition to a narrative feature is mildly amusing, with all of the highlights in the trailer. What you have not seen already seems like filler, mostly exposition and a tacked on “meet the parents,” “aren’t our cultural differences a hoot” overlay.
Sebastian Maniscalco plays…Sebastian Maniscalco. That is his character’s name, and Robert De Niro plays Sebastian’s real-life father, Salvo, who left Sicily as a young man to emigrate to America, served in the US Army in Vietnam, and then established a successful hair salon in Chicago. In this film, Sebastian is not a performer but manager of a boutique hotel. Like most first-generation Americans, he has tried to separate himself from his heritage, and he is very much in love with a woman who is from a very different background.
Ellie is a sunny-tempered artist who grew up in a wealthy WASP family with several homes. She is played by Leslie Bibb, doing her best with her dazzling smile, trying to give some substance to a low-level manic pixie dream girl whose job is to be upbeat and supportive.
Ellie’s mother is Tigger (Kim Catrall), a US Senator. Her father, Bill (David Rasche) owns an international hotel company. She has two brothers. The first is heir apparent Lucky, nicknamed because he is the 13th generation to carry the ancestral name. He is played by Anders Holm, nailing the entitled frat boy. Then there’s Doug (Brett Dier), who is all about chakras and standing bells and healing meditations. If this is sounding a bit like “Wedding Crashers” and “Annie Hall” but not as good, you’ve got the idea.
Bill and Tigger are vaguely supportive of all three children, not usual for high-performing parents or for the kind of conflicts that hold an audience’s interest, but okay, this is not “Meet the Parents.”
When Ellie’s parents invite Sebastian for the first time to the annual 4th of July gathering, he is delighted, planning to propose to her. But Salvo makes him feel guilty — and won’t turn over the family ring if Sebastian leaves him alone. So, with a lot of trepidation, Sebastian brings Salvo along. And of course this leads to a lot of hijinks of various kinds, but they’re pretty low-level jinks, if you know what I mean. Salvo embarrasses Sebastian. Then Sebastian embarrasses himself. Then Salvo ingratiates himself. Then Salvo horrifies Tigger. Sebastian is not happy about any of this. It is sit-com-ish without much imagination in the sits or laughs in the com. There are a few good lines and it is funny to see how Sebastian and Salvo put on cologne every night before bed.
Stand-ups are often natural actors. When they tell stories on stage they act out all the parts. Maniscalco is especially good at this, with great physicality to assist in creating characters and showing reactions. But as an actor, he is more subdued and older than the character is written to be. The boy/girl and parent issues would be more fitting for someone in their 20s or 30s than for someone who is 50. A few guest appearances by TV stars and some wisecracks do little to brighten the various sit-com style incidents. We should not feel that the actors had more fun than the audience. Wait for streaming.
Parents should know that this film includes some strong language, comic nudity (bare tush), some sexual references, social drinking and references to drug use, the killing of a family pet, and some tense family confrontations.
Family discussion: What do Sebastian and Ellie have in common? Have you ever been embarrassed by your parents or children?
If you like this, try: Maniscalco’s stand-up and “Meet the Parents”