Everybody Wants to Be Italian (2008) *

Rated: R
Runtime: 1hr 45min
Director: Jason Todd Ipson
Stars: Jay Jablonski, Cerina Vincent, Marisa Petroro
Genre: Comedy
Language: English

Everybody Wants to Make a Hit Romantic Comedy

In a Nutshell

Plot

Straight as an Arrow
Twisty

Sound Quality

Easy to Hear
Incomprehensible

Who's That?

Few Main Characters
Lots

Naughty Words

Mild
Foul

Naked people

None
Lots

Violence

Tame
Bloody

In this silly spumoni of a movie, Jake (Jay Jablonski) and Marisa (Cerina Vincent) try really hard to pass themselves off as Italian.  To each other.   No one else is fooled.  Writer/Director Jason Todd tries really, really hard to make “Everybody Wants to be Italian” a comedy on a par with “Moonstruck” or “When Ariana Met Sal”.  He doesn’t pull that off, either.  What you get is a chintzy slice of each, with a little taste of somebody’s big wedding, the Sopranos, and even a whiff from Lidia’s Kitchen.

Jake is the well-muscled owner of a successful if somewhat inelegantly run fish store.  He has pined, nay, stalked for eight long years after the “soul mate” he admits to having cheated on outrageously.  His only excuse: “I’m a man!”  This is questionable.  His character has been written as a terminal juvenile, graceless, crude and utterly incapable of imagining how it feels in any shoes other than his very own jogging sneakers.   Jake’s employees, a lovable band of authentic Italians, hatch a plot to force him to give up his obsession with Isabella (Marisa Petroro), now married with three kids.

Marisa — the character, that is — a lovely, intelligent, savvy veterinarian mysteriously tolerates this child in adult’s clothing and his endless demeaning jokes about her profession during their prolonged, peculiar and incomprehensible courtship.   Jake is definitely the high maintenance partner in this match-made-in-hell.  But, it never achieves the poignant “I’ll have what she’s having” moment.

Inexplicably moonstruck by this cute cad, Marisa soaks up the maternal advice of her neighbor (Judith Scarpone).  Mrs. Abignali’s experience bringing out the best in Italian manhood may be vast, but we only get a glimpse of it as she shows Marisa how to slice a tomato.  The paterfamilias of the fish store (Richard Libertini) tells Jake how to sweep a real Italian woman off her feet, but Papa Aldo’s wisdom seems shallow without a pack of overfed mongrels to howl with into the midnight sky.

“Everybody Wants to be Italian” is jam packed with people telling each other what they ought to do, how to dress, to talk and behave, to cook, to leave their husband, or get laid.   So pervasive and pushy is this advice, it’s simply amazing that no one winds up with their feet in concrete and the only murder victim in the movie is a pet fish.   But, the theme of counseling, the professional kind, does provide the movie with some genuinely funny moments.

Being Italian apparently involves a strong attraction to therapy, whether or not you are mobbed up.   Steve (John Kapelos), a grizzled, self-made philosopher, holds day-to-day operations of the fish store together while earning his degree as a psychologist.  He tips his first “patient”, Jake, into a shabby Barcalounger, back of the shop, and sits in a bloody apron flanked by Papa and his son Gianluca (John Enos III) who just can’t resist putting their two cents into the analytic session.  The actors all enjoy themselves immensely.

Fo’geddabout Jersey City and New York.  “Everybody Wants to be Italian” is, at last, a visual serenade to the Italian enclaves of the beautiful city of Boston.  It’s all so ethnically correct, with tarantellas chunk-di-chunking and the likes of Perry Como crooning in the background.   But, it just might make you want to go see reruns of the films this one wanted to be.

Lynn McCann's checkered professional life began with dance and has included singing and acting, writing and journalism, teaching and tutoring. A long career as a computer programmer is mercifully behind her and she looks forward to publishing a memoir, a biography, and a popular history of automation technology. She continues to perform as a singer, and leads New York City tours for Elderhostel.

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