Big fat `Italiano'

October 17, 2003|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN FILM CRITIC

It had to happen. The clones of My Big Fat Greek Wedding are coming.

By all rights, Mambo Italiano should be called my Big Fat Gay Italian Wedding. It's the story of a second-generation Italian-Canadian (Who knew there were two Americas? his father asks), who's unsuccessfully searching for romance. He's also deathly afraid of offending Mom and Dad - as much because he's reluctant to hurt their feelings as he wants to avoid the embarrassment that would surely accompany going against their wishes.

Of course, when he stops looking for love, it finds him (in this case, when his apartment is ransacked and the police arrive). But can these two find happiness, especially when the families of both are dead set against their union?

Oh yeah, here's the twist: They're gay.

Beyond that, it's pretty much the same story. Sure, there are a few more twists - one gay character, for example, goes straight, and another character - in a semi-humorous though mostly embarrassing plotline - attempts to man a telephone hotline for gays in trouble.

But there's no getting away from Mambo Italiano's slavish mimicry. For crying out loud, the main character, Angelo, even works as a travel agent, like his My Big Fat Greek Wedding counterpart. And just like the parents in Wedding, Angelo's parents (Paul Sorvino and Ginette Reno) speak in fractured English, extol the old virtues and exhibit all manner of cute quirks (although there's no Windex).

As the son, Luke Kirby never seems to embrace his role, acting more like he's in a TV sitcom than a big-screen feature; the same is true of Peter Miller, who plays his lover, Nino. Their performances are adequate, but there's no spark - as though they can't generate any enthusiasm for starring in a knock-off. The movie may offer a few laughs, and as Angelo's neurotic sister, Claudia Ferri gets off some good lines. But unless you think My Big Fat Greek Wedding was the height of genius, there's little reason to sit though another version.

Mambo Italiano

Starring: Luke Kirby, Peter Miller, Paul Sorvino

Directed by: Emile Gaudreault

Rated: R (Language, sexuality)

Released by: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Time: 88 minutes

Sun Score **

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