Clearly Canadian

Mambo Italiano

Rated 3.0 The Canadian comedy Mambo Italiano comes on like it might be something along the lines of My Big Fat Gay Italian Wedding. The wedding involved is not actually between gays, but this screen version of Steve Galluccio’s gay/ethnic stage play (co-adapted here by Galluccio and director Emile Gaudreault) has several things in common with last year’s big fat little Greek hit—sit-com wisecracking, raucous ethnic satire, ugly-duckling romance, etc.

Angelo (Luke Kirby), the son of two Italian immigrants in Montreal, is both narrator and protagonist in this broadly comical coming-out drama. His tradition-bound parents (Paul Sorvino and Ginette Reno) are aghast when it becomes apparent that he and his childhood pal and roommate, Nino (Peter Miller), are lovers, but that’s only one stage of Angelo’s travails, which are soon convoluting into something like bedroom farce as well.

Angelo and Nino are not entirely inseparable, as it runs out, and Nino, who is a Montreal cop, has his own coming-out problems and a problematical parent (Mary Walsh) to boot. Soon enough, farcical complications are setting in—Angelo’s sister Anna (Claudia Ferri) becomes a feisty intermediary in assorted conflicts, the foxy Pina Lunetti (Sophia Lorain) sets her sights on Nino, the parents are competing with each other, and Angelo is getting to know the friendly volunteer Peter (Tim Post) at the local Gay Helpline.

Kirby and his supporting cast are charming and funny, but Gaudreault directs them as if they were dealing punch-lines in stand-up comedy. That makes for laughter and entertainment, but Mambo Italiano loses its momentum as social comedy as a result and comes perilously close to reducing itself to a set of vaudeville routines with topical pretensions.