• Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

ABOUT MY FATHER movie review

ByTaylor Carlson

May 26, 2023

ABOUT MY FATHER is directed by Laura Terruso. The film stars Sebastian Maniscalco, Robert De Niro, Leslie Bibb, Anders Holm, David Rasche, and Kim Cattrall.

Sebastian is the son of a working-class immigrant, and the relationship of father and son is jeopardized when Sebastian falls in love with artist Ellie, who hails from an upper-class family. He and his father head to Ellie’s family’s estate for the Fourth of July weekend where he plans to propose to the woman of his dreams. But will clashing backgrounds and values derail the weekend and Sebastian’s plans to propose?

Confession time: My familiarity with Sebastian Maniscalco is minimal at best. But apparently he’s a hugely successful comedian, and ABOUT MY FATHER, in which he plays a fictional version of himself, could easily be viewed as a passion project for the actor/comedian. I was certainly curious to see how a film like this would turn out; a supporting cast that included the likes of Robert De Niro and Leslie Bibb certainly didn’t hurt things either. The film is formulaic and plays it safe too much of the time (it’s held back by a PG-13 rating), but at the end of the day, the purpose of a comedy is to make me laugh, and ABOUT MY FATHER certainly succeeded there.

A comedic film (or any film for that matter) doesn’t work if there’s no chemistry between the leads and the characters aren’t interesting. Fortunately, ABOUT MY FATHER delivers in that department. Maniscalco is perfect as the man torn between respecting his father’s working-class values and falling in love with a wife who’s an artist from a wealthy family, yet she resents much of that aspect. Romantic comedies and fish-out-of-water stories with clashing values are nothing new. From a ruthless bad-ass mob man to an eccentric father-in-law, there’s no role Robert De Niro can’t play, and he’s certainly the MVP here. The movie will inevitably draw comparisons to MEET THE PARENTS (which also starred De Niro), for better or worse. In the film, the central leads all do fantastic work, but supporting cast like Ellie’s brothers are relegated to one-joke characters who sadly don’t get much to do.

The approach a comedy takes can make or break it. Do you go for witty, verbal humor, or for more outrageous slapstick moments that try to hit the audience with shock value? ABOUT MY FATHER stays pretty grounded for the most part, though it’s not above having the occasional scene that tries to be a little more risque (well, as much as PG-13 will allow). Although it’s those dialogue sequences that are the movie’s strongest and most relatable, some of the attempts at “shock value” humor worked. I saw this in a shared press/public screening, and one scene set on the family’s yacht got enormous belly laughs from everyone in the auditorium (though I won’t spoil it here).

I also appreciate that this film clocks in at a mere 90 minutes, telling a fairly complete story and never outstaying its welcome. If there’s a weakness to ABOUT MY FATHER, it’s that it can feel a bit rushed at times, and many conflicts and potential crises are dealt with and fixed too quickly. Despite this though, it felt good to be in and out of the theater in an hour and a half, particularly in a day and age where it’s not uncommon to have to sit through movies an hour longer than that or more.

ABOUT MY FATHER is getting mixed reviews despite Maniscalco’s top-notch reputation as a comedian, but this moviegoer had a good time with it. When it comes to comedies, this one doesn’t reinvent the wheel, nor will it be something I expect to see honored come Oscar season. But it’s a perfectly entertaining 90-minute comedy, even if it does play it safe a little too often. It’s at least good enough to moderately recommend.

By Taylor Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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