BIG MAMMA'S BOY
Rocco (Frank Lotito) the 35 year old real estate salesman lives with his widowed mother (Carmelina Di Guglielmo).and his grandpa (Osvaldo Maione), being cared and cooked for to within an inch of his life. When he meets the newly hired estate agent Katie (Holly Valance), he discovers his home arrangement is a disadvantage and tries to impress her by sharing a flat with his friend Anton (Steve Mouzakis), learning to cook and iron from neighbourly Mrs Cotoletta (Maria Venuti) - but to no avail. He's still just a big mamma's boy and Katie wants a man.
Review by Louise Keller:
It's well meaning enough, but the premise of this would-be endearing comedy is far too slight. Even more pertinent, the script is badly underdeveloped, resulting in a story where nothing is believable - neither the key relationships nor the reality in which it is set. It's a bit like a TV sitcom without the laughs and director Franco di Chiera (most of whose work has been in television, like the film's star and screenwriter Frank Lotito) is not able to inject the much needed pizzazz to give the journey spark. There are too many clichés, too many predictable moments, too much of too little. The performances are mostly fine, although the actors are given little to guide them by way of tone and consistency, as the story evolves like a series of skits tentatively lassoed together.
First and foremost we need to believe in and care about the relationship between Big Mamma's Boy Rocco (Frank Lotito) and his Mamma (Camerlina Di Guglielmo), who panders to her son's every whim with stifling consistency. The opening sequence in which Rocco heads to work at the real estate office with a huge lunch tray of home-baked goodies from Mamma has potential - especially when we learn it is a daily occurrence which the office staff enjoys. Much to Mamma's dismay, her 35 year old son will not be coming home for her fabulous, home-made lasagna dinner; he is going to have a drink at his local watering hole, sing a song with the band, chat up a pretty girl and try to impress her. It's hardly a surprise that Katie (Holly Valance), the pretty girl he chats up, turns out to be the new office girl. Awkward? Natch. Nor is it a surprise that the house where he takes her for a smooch does not belong to him.
When Rocco announces he is going to leave home, Mamma melodramatically takes to her bed with the priest, doctor, local butcher, greengrocer and Papi at her bedside. Then - shock and horror - Mamma thinks her beloved son is gay. ('How can I be gay; I'm an Italian,' Rocco retorts.) To make it worse, the butcher (nicely played by Tony Nikolakopoulos) comes up with the film's worst corny line: 'It's ok to be happy.... And gay.' Unfortunately it is all played for laughs. From Uncle Peppino (Vince D'Amico) who brings 'a package' from Sicily when requested (Pia Miller is lovely) and Rocco's next door neighbour who gives him tips on how to cook, iron, wash and vacuum (a thankless role for the talented Maria Venuti).
The romantic pairing of Rocco with Katie is as improbable as it is lacking in chemistry and their public declaration of affection at a public auction is unoriginal and lacking in charm to the point of embarrassment. Then there's the scene with the naked men and the strategically placed banana from the fruit bowl.... I'm sorry I didn't warm to this film. Perhaps it will meet its target when it is released on DVD - over pizza and beer.
Published first in the Sun-Herald
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If I didn't know better, I would have said this is an Australian film made about 50 years ago, an early spoof on Italian migrants. It still plays like an attempted spoof, but a caricature that lacks whimsy or wit, with a story that just isn't of great interest to anyone except perhaps the characters in the middle of it. It certainly isn't of cinematic scale, and the absence of any serious grounding makes it float off the screen into the ether.
Given how much emphasis is placed on mamma's lasagna (and other foods), it is telling that the film doesn't present the cooking well enough to make us drool.
Nothing is authentic, few of the characters are genuine. Of all the characters the only ones that are credible are the girlfriend Katie (Holly Valance), Maria (Pia Miller) the girl imported by mamma from Italy to be the bride - who doesn't speak English - and Mrs Coteletto (Maria Venuti).
Writer/producer/star Frank Lotito is no Nick Giannopoulos and this Italianate version of The Wog Boy falls down on all the key essentials: it isn't funny enough or sharp enough to be a satire, nor is it a strong enough story to keep us engaged, nor is Lotito's character Rocco a charming but flawed young man as perhaps he might be to gain our interest. It has no real heart, try as the filmmakers might in the final act.
The score seems also to have been found in an old abandoned movie chest, but it is laid on with a heavy mixing hand (to its detriment). However, the jazz club band backing Lotito's Rocco for an impromptu rendition of the haunting standard, Sway, is on form.
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BIG MAMMA'S BOY (M)
CAST: Frank Lotito, Holly Valance, Carmelina Di Guglielmo, George Kapiniaris, Maria Venuti, Costas Kilias, Pia Miller
PRODUCER: Frank Lotito, Matteo Bruno
DIRECTOR: Franco di Chiera
SCRIPT: Matteo Bruno, Frank Lotito
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Judd Overton
EDITOR: Beckett Broda
MUSIC: Ash Gibson Greig
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Gail Pether
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 28, 2011
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