Mambo Italiano Émile Gaudreault

Marketed as an Italian take on My Big Fat Greek Wedding, this Canadian comedy should appeal to a more diverse audience than Joel Zwick's loud romantic romp. Like its Big Fat Greek counterpart, this flick has a controversial romance, but it's not merely an issue of dating and mating outside the tribe, but outside of the tribal norm. Angelo Barbieri (Luke Kirby) is a closeted gay Montrealer who mortifies his old-country folks, first by moving out before marriage, then by revealing that his roommate Nino (Peter Miller) is also his boyfriend. However, Nino isn't so keen on coming out and his conflicted sexual orientation, his mother's matchmaking and his cop job threaten the relationship. Based on a play by Steve Gallucci, who co-wrote the screenplay with Gaudreault, the film is an ethnic family comedy first and a coming out drama second. Italian jokes swirl around the movie's older generation — Angelo's parents (played to the hilt by Paul Sorvino and Quebec singing star Ginette Reno) and Nino's mom (Mary Walsh) — as well as Angelo's neurotic younger sister (a great performance by Claudia Ferri). Thankfully, most of the jokes are actually funny, the parents are allowed to exist outside of the stereotypes and the gags, and the gays aren't TV-gay (no queens!). It's not a flawless film — the Gay Helpline flashback device feels awkward and Walsh speaks a very wobbly Sicilian — but the ensemble cast is solid and Kirby is a brilliant centre-piece. The DVD, however, offers paltry packaging and not-so-special features. There's the usual "making of" featurette, with only a brief ray of enlightening info about the play's adaptation, along with two dull deleted scenes, a lame "blooper" reel and a superfluous extended scene. So come for the film, but don't stay for the extras. (Equinoxe/Warner)