‘City Island’: Pleasing look at an off-beat family

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, April 8, 2010 7:37pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Indie movie distributors surely must be on constant lookout for the next “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” a cheaply made little crowd-pleaser that can settle into a theater and generate nice word-of-mouth.

“City Island” won’t be quite as fat or as Greek as that fluke, but it’s got similar appeal: a comedy about a family in which everybody pushes everybody else’s buttons — but they love each other anyway, goshdarnit.

The setting is a Bronx neighborhood, City Island, an odd little enclave that skirts the edge of the metropolis. Vince Rizzo, played by Andy Garcia, is a prison guard, although he’d really rather you call him a corrections officer.

Vince has a nice house, nice wife (Julianna Margulies), and two kids who have their secrets, as he does.

Vince’s secret is that he’s taking an acting class once a week, although his wife thinks he’s playing poker (gambling being a far more socially excusable activity than acting). This becomes a charming subplot, as Vince goes on a larkish audition for a Robert De Niro movie, which doesn’t go the way he thought.

His college-student daughter (Dominik Garcia-Lorido, real-life daughter of Andy Garcia) has a sideline job that won’t please her father, and Vince’s adolescent son (the hilariously deft Ezra Miller) harbors an online fetish for overweight women.

And there’s another surprise in store for Vince, involving an inmate (Steven Strait) at the prison, but — perhaps that’s enough synopsis for now. Suffice it to say that the movie is as believable as the average sitcom, but that it redeems itself with lived-in atmosphere, tasty behavioral moments from the cast and some genuinely funny lines.

It’s not exactly a great movie, but writer-director Raymond De Fellita (who did the odd, similar “The Thing About My Folks” a few years back) brings just enough of a cockeyed touch to the material that the film does leave a pleasant afterglow. And good word of mouth, I suspect.

Talk to us

More in Life

Washington’s most beloved state park turns 100

Deception Pass State Park, which draws as many visitors as the best-known national parks in the U.S., celebrates a century of recreation and conservation

Hydrangea and rose
July checklist for Snohomish County gardeners

After a slow start to summer, things should take off this month. So keep planting and nurturing.

Caption: The 12 week Edmonds Community Police Academy was a free opportunity for private citizens to learn about law enforcement.
An inside look at how law enforcement works

A pregnant mother. A man who rescues abused horses and donkeys. A… Continue reading

Kid 'n Play members Christopher "Kid" Reid, left, and Christopher "Play" Martin perform on NBC's "Today" show during the "I Love The 90's" morning concert at Rockefeller Plaza on Friday, April 29, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Relive the music of the 1990s with Kid N Play and other stars of the era at the Tulalip Casino Amphitheater.

So-called relaxing summer vacations can wear you out

To truly enjoy a family getaway, tone down your expectations. Everything won’t be picture-perfect.

Gimmelwald, built in an avalanche zone, yet specializing in alpine tranquility.
Roaming the Alps brings cultural insights along with the views

The Swiss have great respect for Alpine traditions and culture — and contempt for tourists who disrespect both.

Will TripMate cover costs for trip canceled for medical reasons?

After Stanley Wales cancels his diving trip to Bonaire, he files a travel insurance claim with TripMate. What’s taking them so long to respond?

Contestant chef Brian Madayag (left) of Edmonds and West Coast team captain Brooke Williamson on “Beachside Brawl.” (Food Network) 20220616
Edmonds chef reps Pacific Northwest on new Food Network show

Barkada owner Brian Madayaga will compete on a new Food Network series that premiers Sunday.

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Kosteri’ (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Kosteri’

This Hinoki cypress is graceful and beautiful, and is very drought-tolerant once established.

Most Read