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Film Reviews by Lisa Blanck
About My Father
| Thursday, 05.25.2023, 08:37 PM |   (398 views)

Robert De Niro, About My Father

If you're comedian Sebastian Maniscalco, and you're putting your 'origination story/dirty laundry' up on the silver screen, who better to play your Italian-American dad, Salvo, than film icon Robert De Niro?   De Niro's own dad was of Italian descent, and De Niro has always been proud of his Sicilian roots.  So by paying homage to Salvo Maniscalco, he's also honoring the memory of his own pop. 

The two first appeared together in The Irishman, which was produced by De Niro. On About My Father, Maniscalco holds the titles of star/writer/Executive Producer.  And the duo try to make it work, trading barbs about his impending-bride-to-be's family when they observe, "It's the Italian version of Get Out."

Salvo is a beloved and respected women's hair stylist back in Chicago, where Sebastian and his girlfriend, Ellie, also live.  Back in Chicago, Salvo is the cock-of-the-walk, even if that walk is just a local beauty salon. Ellie would love to get to know Salvo better, and encourages Sebastian to invite his dad to her family's private, members-only club outside D.C. for the holiday.  At first Salvo declines, believing there is no way he'd fit in.  He also believes that Ellie's family is no place for Sebastian.  And then Salvo changes his mind and accepts the challenge, much to Sebastian's horror.

The film becomes a bit slapstick-y.  Salvo creates a tasty thank you dinner with a mystery ingredient.  Sebastian loses his pants during a Flyboard waterjet demonstration.  The duo have a nightly "cologne ritual", where they spray the air with a 'manly' scent and bump chests.  

Their fish out of water story can be seen as an homage to 'Guess Who's Coming To Dinner', but has none of the racial biases that important film explored; it's more of WASP vs. Immigrant. It's also a bit "Focker"- ish, allowing De Niro to verbally one-up the rest of the adults in the room including Ellie (Leslie Bibb), mom Tigger (Kim Cattrall) dad Bill (David Rasche) and older brother Lucky (Anders Collins)

Truly, the one who doesn't belong in the family is Ellie's younger brother Doug (Brett Dier), who uses sound bowls and instruments to get his "zen" in order, and claims to have a girlfriend that no one has ever seen. 

There are some unforced laughs, but on the whole, About My Father isn't especially memorable. 

Lisa Blanck is the Associate Editor and Movie Reviewer for In  Her background includes 30+ years of digital editing for WESH2 News and WKMG News.  She also edits on-air promotional spots for Matter Of Fact, a highly-rated nationally syndicated news and information program.  For more than 30 years she has covered the Florida Film Festival and the World Peace Film Festival, with additional experience in advertising, marketing, promotions and live special events at MTV Networks.  She was previously a columnist for the Focus In Newspaper.

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