Written & Directed By: James DeMonaco
Cinematography: Anastas N. Michos
Editor: Keith Fraase
Cast: Naomi Watts, Frank Grillo, Lucius Hoyos, Madelyn Cline, Chase Vacnin, Bobby Cannavale, River Alexander, Max Casella, Steve Lipman, Method Man, Lenny Venito, Jonah Hauer-King
A teenager living in Staten Island during the summer of 1982 embarks on a quest that draws in his family members.
This is a sweet coming-of-age film. It is earnest and tries to give you an overview of the neighborhood, families, times, and atmosphere. So that it feels more natural. Which in a way only exposes how false it is at times. The problem is that it feels way too familiar for the audience.
It tells the tale of a family throughout two days that will come to define them. Each member of the family has to deal with a challenge and we see how they deal with it and overcome it.
Even if most of the film is the adventure of the youngest son and his mission to tell the girl of his dreams happy birthday and that he loves her. With plenty of traps and roadblocks along the way.
The film works as far as nostalgia taking us to STATEN island during the 1980s and while that is fun. Even putting at the heart of the film is the debut of ROCKY III. Which inspired and ties the films and its character together.
The film still feels way too familiar. It’snWorth watching if not necessarily a film fan or for a younger audience, but it offers no surprises nor any reason to really stay invested.
As even when young ladies are willing to sneak them into a bar and give them plenty of drinks out of nowhere. You can tell something is not right and it feels too much of a scene from the warriors.
So that by the end this feels more like an Italian American inspired television movie and while it might be more autobiographical for the writer-director James DeMonaco
It also feels more like a movie that has a checklist and makes sure it goes through the list one by one and on schedule. As the teen adventures Seem a bit like an homage to THE WARRIORS.
Even when it comes to the bully getting their comeuppance you can’t wait. Even if the film makes you wait a bit too long and his girlfriend gives him up a little too easily. It just makes her seem that much more innocent despite her father being the local heavy
Even in the part that involves a character coming out of the closet while it’s Appreciated that the character is confused and not sure about who they are exactly. Was it necessary for them to do it in drag? Maybe that was the truth for the character and how they choose to express themselves, but it offers up a bonding Experience. It also feels a bit stereotypical. Especially when it comes to acceptance from others who are just a little too quick. So the true film feels cookie-cutter. As everything is resolved in the end a little too neatly and finally.
The cast is impressive and the bigger names get a chance to show off in certain roles we might not expect. Especially Method man who seems like he is playing a minor role but is one of importance later on and as a known resident of STATEN island it is nice to see him represent.
It could easily be seen as ironic that the film in question At the center of this film is ROCKY III, but it shows no matter what might be universally thought of Something. If you can identify with characters that bring you peace, pride, or inspiration that is all that matters, and how some characters are icons to communities and bring them together on the same wavelength.
Though Bobby Cannavale is left with a more stereotypical role. That can be said of half the cast. Though Frank Grillo gets to play a more dramatic role it still has him involved in a fight scene.
In the end, the film can be entertaining. It just feels like you have seen it before and has been built off of other films you have seen and never quite feels itself or fresh. Even if it has its heart in the right place.