The Rizzo’s are a traditional Brooklyn family, loud, fighting, and everyone is a tad dysfunctional. Whether they are keeping their smoking from one another, sneaking off to acting class, stripping, or trying to embrace the urge to feed a fat woman every Rizzo has a quirk. But when an unlikely house guest is brought home by the father Vince their slightly dysfunctional world gets an extra spin of insanity which begins building towards a climax of misconceptions.
The film gets a bit contrived rather quickly which makes for a plot you have never really seen before but is a tad tough to believe at the same time. Now the plot isn’t anything too outlandish or implausible but it was just too bit of a stretch for me for some reason. The film is also quite predictable at times in that it projects a bit too much when something is about to come around the corner not in a way that some twist is seen coming a mile a way. The shouting matches between the couple/family all feel tired and worn out. The editing could have also used just a tad of trimming as well but other than that I don’t have a lot of complaints. The Emily Mortimer character is the most out of place and odd thing about the film and while she is needed as a catalyst and plot point’s hinge on her it never felt natural; maybe this is what needed to be trimmed?
Though most of these complaints can be easily forgotten once you get sucked into Garcia’s performance and the genuine family humor that does feel fresh compared to some of those things I mentioned above. The writing and direction is sharp and Raymond De Felitta does a great job at getting the most out of his mostly unknown cast and moderate budget.
Andy Garcia is what really makes this film work when it comes down to it and his audition scene is one for the books. Garcia shows a fantastic range of emotions in this one scene that lets him show every thing an actor can do. He also has some great interactions between all of his cast mates and he is the gel that keeps the movie moving forward and stay interesting. One of the finer Garcia roles for certain in recent memory and he deserves all the credit anyone might praise on him for his work. Emily Mortimer’s character might be a bit unnecessary, but her performance is as good as always when it comes to her always great work. Julianna Margulies is by far the most cartoonish and over the top of the group but she is a lot of fun and has some decent comedic timing. Steven Strait’s character comes across a bit dim to be the sage in the third act but Strait does a fine enough job. Alan Arkin also shines in his brief appearances as Garcia’s acting class teacher.
In the end, City Island is funny, doesn’t over stay its welcome, and is a solid dysfunctional family comedy. It might not tread too much new ground but Garcia is worth the price of admission alone and he is surrounded by an able cast of supporting characters. The plot may be a tad to contrived for some but the film is light and fun enough for you to just not worry about the logistics of it all and just enjoy the film and the great character Garcia puts up on the screen.
City Island is a B-