Review | ‘About My Father’: Sweet family comedy, seasoned with bland yuks

(2 stars)

Comedian and actor Sebastian Menscalco (recently seen in Ray Romano’s directorial debut, the family-themed drama “Somewhere in Queens(as the brother of Romano’s character) used the subject of his own Sicilian-immigrant father as “gold mineFor his stand-up act, which can be quite funny. With Menscalco’s feature-writing debut — the genial family comedy “About My Father” — the actor returns to that mother, playing a version of himself, also named Sebastian Menscalco, alongside Robert De Niro in his Sicilian-Tarquin. Father Salo.

If he doesn’t come away with comedy gold, of course, it’s not for lack of trying.

It’s a sweet, mostly cute story about the importance of the people we belong to, with some pretty broad and especially hilarious yucks. Set on Fourth of July weekend, in the Virginia mansion where Sebastian’s girlfriend Ellie (Leslie Bibb) spent her childhood summers with her foster family, which has its roots in the Mayflower, “Father” is a fish-out story. Is. In which Chicago-based Sebastian meets Ellie’s wealthy family for the first time, including Salo.

Cue the culture clash – which is never fully established. Would you rather solve some silly mishaps?

Right off the bat, Sebastian has a panic attack, or airsickness, or something in the helicopter brought to the airport by Eli’s ne’er-do-well brother Lucky (Anders Holm) to pick them up. Then, when Sebastian is Jet boating Off the family yacht, her Versace swim trunks dropped in front of everyone. Later, trying to thank his hosts (Kim Catterill and David Rasche) for their hospitality, Salo prepares a quick pasta dish using the family’s pet peacock as protein. (No spoiler alerts here: these last two feature prominently in both. The trailer. Arguably, they are the best gags in the film.)

To be honest, it feels like Menscalco is wielding the pickaxe a little too heavily to come up with nuggets for a story that’s at its best when it’s just stepping back and dealing with life’s small struggles. Observes. Lucky is a walking cliché, for example: dressed as a caricature of a nautical prep chick, he insists on calling Sebastian “sea bass,” like Alex Moffat’s distant cousin. The boy who just bought a boat. Role on “Saturday Night Live”.

The other brother, Doug (Brett Dyer), is more interesting and unpredictable: a new-age weirdo who plays the flute and doesn’t hesitate to tell it when Sebastian and Salo meet at lunch at the family club. deals with, that the building was built by enslaved people. More Doug, and less ding-dong of Sebastian, might be an improvement here.

But Doug is there to score another point that “Father” ultimately makes with beauty and sincerity, even though it’s not particularly original. (“Somewhere in Queens” actually made it better.) However, it’s a truth, and a hearty one: Family can be embarrassing. And yet family is not one of the most important things in life – it is everything.

PG-13. in area theaters. Contains suggestive content, strong language and partial nudity. 89 minutes

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