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Screwball Secrets 

Nobody’s who they say they are in the Rizzo family.

click to enlarge art15004.jpg

Pretty much unknown outside of New York, City Island is a fishing village off the coast of the Bronx. It’s here that the Rizzo family lives, and argues.

Vince (Andy Garcia) is a prison guard who prefers the term “correctional officer.” Joyce (a ravishing Julianna Margulies) is his housewife wife. Vivian (Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Andy’s real-life daughter) is their college daughter, home for spring break. Vince Jr. (Ezra Miller) is her little brother.

They all have one thing in common: secrets they’re keeping from each other. Vince says he’s going out at night to poker games, but he’s really off to acting lessons. Joyce keeps sneaking cigarettes, even though she promised that she gave them up. She suspects that Vince is having an affair because of the poker nights that are really acting classes. Vivian has left school and is working as a stripper. Vince Jr. is on the Internet, feeding a fetish for watching large women cook.

So there you have it — all kinds of ingredients for a screwball comedy. Or at least that’s what writer-director Raymond DeFelitta’s intent. It’s funny enough, but too much of the humor comes from having family members yell at each other instead of just speaking.

The film never stops getting more complicated. For instance, there’s Tony (Steven Strait), a smalltime car thief who’s nearing parole. Vince figures out that Tony is his son from a long-ago pre-marriage fling. All Tony knows is that his unknown rotten dad skipped town before he ever met him. Perplexed Vince gets Tony released on bail and has him move in with his family... without telling him why... and without telling anyone else in his family who he is.

It doesn’t help that Tony’s a hunk, and that both Joyce and Vivian have some trouble taking their eyes off of his buff body when he’s doing house repairs.

Not enough complications? How about that pretty Brit who’s Vince’s acting partner at classes? She’s Molly (Emily Mortimer), and wouldn’t you know it, the teacher assigns Vince and Molly to share an embarrassing secret, then act it out in a monologue.

Yeah, there are too many things going on, but some good laughs come out of them.

Both Margulies and Strait are OK in their roles, but Mortimer is stuck in a rather thankless part that never gets off the ground, while Garcia shows off some of his juiciest acting in a long while. When he proves to be adept at his new hobby — and he takes on a “deze and doze” persona — he’s hilarious.

The film ends up offering two good pieces of advice. For actors: Be yourself. For everyone: Tell the truth.


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