Mambo Italiano (2003)

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Released 16-Mar-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Animation & Audio
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Deleted Scenes
Outtakes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 89:06
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:53) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Émile Gaudreault
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Luke Kirby
Paul Sorvino
Ginette Reno
Claudia Ferri
Peter Miller
Mary Walsh
Sophie Lorain
Tim Post
Pierrette Robitaille
Dino Tavarone
Michel Perron
Lou Vani
Gordon Masten
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music FM Le Sieur


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Let's get the parallels and comparisons to My Big Fat Greek Wedding out of the way first. They are both kitchen ethnic dramas which play heavily on ownership to a subculture, with all the visual clichés and mannerisms fully on display. Both are "coming of age" films - about the reconciliation of the older generation's expectations and the second generation's assimilation into their new world. Both have larger than life characters and a feel-good formula.

     So, what distinguishes Mambo Italiano from that other ethnic comedy? Not a lot really. Both have more wallpaper patterns per square inch of footage than seems reasonable, the kitchens are almost indistinguishable, and so are the characters, with the lead youth even working in the travel industry, just like in that other film. Oh yeah, the families here are Italian instead of Greek. Oh, and the young male lead is also gay. And as Angelo (Luke Kirby) himself says, "Being Italian and gay is a fate worse than.......no, wait - there is no fate worse than that."

     Well, folks - that's just about the plot - you've almost seen the film. Angelo meets up with his boyhood pal, Nino (Peter Miller) who is now a Montreal cop. They discover that their attraction is far more than platonic, and they set up house together, although they maintain their ruse by dating good Italian girls and keeping separate rooms.

     Angelo is a frustrated scriptwriter, frustrated with his family, frustrated by not being able to be open about his relationship, and well, just frustrated really, while Nino is happy with this status quo. Angelo and Nino are caught out by Angelo's neurotic sister, Anna (Claudia Ferri), and it's only a matter of time before the remainder of the family learn of their secret. When the parents, Angelo's mother (Ginette Reno) and father, (Paul Sorvino) and Nino's mother, (Mary Walsh) find out, the cannelloni hits the fan, with recriminations and remonstrations leading to a gesticulating crescendo.

     Finally, the parents agree to an uneasy truce in the desperate hope of "converting" their sons with a setup dinner. Their plan is to introduce a nice girl to Angelo, and ignite a passion between Nino and Anna - "he likes the brother, how hard can it be for us to get him to like the sister?" is Nino's mother's logic. Disaster, of course, is inevitable. Nino has been testing his sexuality with a brief fling with a girl, Pina (Sophie Lorain), whom he picked up in a bar. Can you guess who Nino's mother chose as a fix up girl for Angelo? No cannolis for guessing! What follows is a Sicilian standoff as Angelo tries to force his recalcitrant family and significant other to "live in the real world," but his efforts result in alienation for all.

     So, will Nino abandon Angelo and marry Pina? Will Angelo ever find true happiness? Will Anna exhaust every therapist in the greater Montreal area? Will Angelo's parents really die of shame?

     The film starts quite well, but suffers from essentially being a one joke wonder. Its origins were as a stage play, and its origins are quite evident here. At times it loses its way - apparently unsure if it's a comedy with pathos, or the reverse. The cultural overlay is heavily applied with wild gesticulations, raised accented voices and every visual device to be expected. It's well meaning and at times genuinely funny, but the gaps between the laughs are often awkward and a little laboured. It probably suffered from being released after Nia Vardalos's ethnic blockbuster, particularly as the scenarios are so alike.

     It's not all bad - it's just all been done before.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced which is its correct format.

     Overall the sharpness is acceptable. There are very slight compression issues which remove details at times, but generally this is not too distracting. Shadow detail is very good and there is no low level noise.

     The colour palette is rich, warm and lustrous. There is the smallest hint of motion blur but this does not affect the colour rendition. Whites are true, as are the blacks.

     There is a small amount of aliasing, but generally, this print is clean and MPEG artefact free. There are very low grain levels, and the print is relatively free of dust spots or film artefacts.

     There are no subtitles available.

     This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 59:53. It is virtually undetectable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There are two audio tracks on this DVD. The default is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound. I listened to both soundtracks, and both were quite acceptable.

     The dialogue was very clean throughout and the soundtrack was very bright and clear. Audio sync was not a problem at all with this transfer, and was completely spot on.

    The musical score was a predictable piece with accordions blazing, but retained a sufficiently tongue-in-cheek attitude to not be irritating.

     The surround channels were busy throughout the presentation, with plenty of ambient sound filling up the speakers. This was never to the detriment of one's attention.

    The subwoofer was not overly worked, but was present where necessary.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

     The menu design is animated with theme music from the production. There are several animated menus for various selections, which is a nice touch of whimsy.

Trailer

     2:08 - well presented and representative of the film.

Working on Mambo Italiano - Cast and Crew Interviews

     The writers, producers and cast speak about their experience of making the film. Fairly standard lovefest that runs for 11:07.

Deleted & Extended Scenes

     There are three scenes - Nino at the Post Office (0:57), On the Construction Site (1:38), and Family Catastrophe - Extended Version (4:25). Of these scenes, the only truly illuminating one was with Nino and Pina at the construction site, which introduced a character that appeared unintroduced in the final cut of the film.

Outtakes

     (2:53) Pretty meaningless little session of line fluffs and giggles.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

     Can you believe it? We have more features than the R1? Well, well, well, miracles do happen!

Summary

     It was always going to suffer comparisons with that other ethnic comedy, and its premise is too close to survive the scrutiny. But it's good humoured enough and delivered with great gusto.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Monday, March 22, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

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