Written by Steve Galluccio and Vinay Virmani, Romantic Comedy Little Italy is set to be a delightful new comedy topped with sizzling romance, family feuds, and delicious pizza.
Starring Emma Roberts as the female lead Nikki Angiolo and Hayden Christensen as the male lead Leo Campo, who fall in love despite their respective families warring, the film has all the ingredients to achieve a modern day Romeo and Juliet love story. While the film is not without its charms, it did lack creativity and substance to the plot itself.
“Although it’s an appealing plot at first glance, it relies on the same tropes and cliches that audiences have seen time and again”
The storyline for Little Italy follows a very basic trajectory which sees former best friends, Sal and Vince, own rival pizzerias in Canada’s Little Italy. They spend most of their time seeking revenge on one another’s restaurants while the other family members try to maintain good relationships. When love blossoms with Sal’s daughter and Vince’s son they try to hide their relationship, a tryst that culminates in a cook-off between the two warring families. Although it’s an appealing plot at first glance, it relies on the same tropes and cliches that audiences have seen time and again.
“Their youthfulness helped serve for a nostalgic film that encourages people to let their mind wander back to their first young love”
It’s difficult to turn down a script with the talented Roberts and Christensen who both played their roles with ardour and playfulness, which made the viewing experience much more appealing. Their youthfulness helped serve for a nostalgic film that encourages people to let their mind wander back to their first young love. Their chemistry was almost tangible which truly held the film together in light of the lacklustre script. It is a feel good film that one can enjoy during a cosy family night in but isn’t one that will be memorable for the years to come.
“Director Donald Petrie plays on hyperbolic stereotypes of Italian culture, such as meddling parents, which provided some comedy but felt a little out of touch at times”
Director Donald Petrie plays on hyperbolic stereotypes of Italian culture, such as meddling parents, which provided some comedy but felt a little out of touch at times. One part that was clearly intended to be for comedic value but that I felt utterly uncomfortable watching was the scene with the character Leo Campo and the policewoman. The police get called to his father’s pizzeria after drugs are planted by the rival family and one policewoman pats down Campo in searching. In the scene she had very crude sexual remarks that in real life would be considered sexual harassment/assault. I’m not sure if the filmmakers were trying to make it seem funny because of the gender role reversal, but regardless of this it felt far too inappropriate since it was a person in a position of power abusing their role. In light of movements such as Times Up and Me Too, this scene left a bad taste behind.
The script itself had moments of other sexual humour that was laugh-out-loud funny. This, combined with the authentic Italian pizzas made throughout solidified my craving for good pizza shortly after the film ended! Although I personally felt that the film was mediocre, I did find the idea of food intertwined with familial love enjoyable and heart-warming to watch. It makes you reminisce about your own family moments where people are bickering and annoying each other but everything is centred around culture and food bringing people together.
“Unfortunately, Little Italy failed to live up to the legacy of these two films with stilted dialogue and lethargic narration”
I am a big believer that there is nothing wrong with predictable plots and using a long-successful formula to ensure laughs as long as you don’t anticipate every single moment. For example, Petrie has previously directed How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Miss Congeniality, both of which were brilliant romcoms, and in which the ending were well-earned. Unfortunately, Little Italy failed to live up to the legacy of these two films with stilted dialogue and lethargic narration. The final scene, in particular, takes place an airport and culminates in several cringey moments that transpire. It felt as if the writers and director didn’t care enough to give us something more than its saccharine depictions.
Mateo Messina’s soundtrack is one of the stronger aspects that makes up for the leaning tower of clichés scattered throughout. This, along with the films lighting, made it cinematically pleasing in terms of the sound and visuals. The scene in which Christensen takes Roberts to his rooftop to show her all of the fresh pizza garnishes is most memorable for its golden hues that transports viewers to a traditional Italian town.
Overall, the actors individually deliver their characters well even if the script is somewhat lazy. Little Italy is a romantic comedy worth watching when released on the 11th March, though you may be updating last night’s Instagram stories while it plays in the background.
Featured Image courtesy of Firsttake Entertainment and Film & TV House via IMDb