Four stars (out of five). Rating: PG-13, for profanity and sexual content
By Derrick Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 4.30.10
Buy DVD: City Island • Buy Blu-Ray: City Island [Blu-ray]
This is what going to the movies is all about.
High-profile pictures like Alice in Wonderland and Iron Man 2 come freighted with their own baggage; the talents involved behind and in front of the camera always set up certain expectations. And because of theatrical previews and TV spots that reveal far too much ahead of time, we invariably have a pretty strong sense of the film before the lights even go down.
|Vince (Andy Garcia, center rear) always hopes to have a nice, quiet family|
meal ... but tempers invariably fly in the Rizzo household, and it seems that
everybody has a secret to hide.
No possible sense of discovery there.
Ah, but the smaller films that arrive on little-cat feet, absent the megabucks marketing campaigns ... they always offer the anticipation of the unknown, the hope of joyous surprise.
City Island is just such a film. And it delivers on such hopes.
Writer/director Raymond De Felitta's thoroughly delightful comedy-drama deserves to become the sort of sleeper hit that turned My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Little Miss Sunshine into box-office sensations. De Felitta's film is funny, touching, achingly poignant and perfectly acted by an ensemble company that puts the "dys" in this dysfunctional family.
We all know people like the Rizzos, in their noisy, combative and exasperated fury. God forbid any of us ever have the misfortune to live next door to a family like this, but in the event we do, one thing's certain: Life won't ever be dull.
Andy Garcia stars as "correctional officer" Vince Rizzo — never, ever call him a "prison guard" — who is introduced as he sneaks a cigarette in the master bathroom while studying up on Marlon Brando. Vince dreams of becoming an actor, and to that end has been clandestinely attending an evening acting class while claiming to be playing poker with friends.
(Alan Arkin pops up as the class' acting coach. I'm beginning to suspect that Arkin is under contract to appear in every misfit indie film.)