The new comedy About My Father is loosely based on the life experiences of stand-up comedian Sebastian Maniscalco who co-writes this screenplay with Austen Earl. Maniscalco also stars in this one as himself alongside Robert De Niro who plays his old-school father and hair-stylist Salvo Maniscalco. This is one of those movies that nestles itself nicely inside a tried-and-true comedic formula. It’s a studio assembly line comedy that layers Maniscalco’s life and relationship with his father over the genre recipe. It essentially plays like an Italian inspired Meet the Fockers and the result is simple albeit forgettable humor. I enjoyed this movie much more than I was expecting to.
Playing in favor of About My Father is a quick runtime so the story, despite its borrowed elements and blatant predictability does keep an enjoyable pace as the comedic hijinks ensue. Sebastian brings his father to meet his girlfriend’s wealthy family. There’s already a tension between Sebastian and Salvo, and with his father’s gruff disposition Sebastian certainly has worries about the complications of this clash of cultures. It’s all routine for the genre but I do think there’s an effective sense-of-humor in the writing to blend with the other plug-and-play story elements.
Sebastian and Salvo bickering throughout does provide plenty of Italian charm and frequent amusement. De Niro and Maniscalco do have a natural chemistry together, at least for the needs of this plot. And I think De Niro is also able to help Maniscalco with his timing well enough to result in a comical father/son dynamic. De Niro does lead many of the scenes and this allows Maniscalco, who isn’t traditionally an actor to play off him. So, they are a humorous duo. The quick pace works in a collection of sight-gags and a few humorous scenarios that, regardless of being recycled, still manage to create some fun awkward chuckles.
Another bright spot for About My Father is its supporting cast. Everyone’s able to bring a little something to the table. Leslie Bibb is a constant dose of energy to the story when needed with a comical performance. Kim Cattrall has a great sequence with De Niro and his hair styling that I thought was the most comically memorable scene in the entire film, and Sledge Hammer himself David Rasche also has his time to show he hasn’t lost his comedic timing. It’s a charming group of characters that translate into an easily engaging movie that provides a few laughs without sticking around too long.
Sure, you can say it borrows way too many elements from other comedies and it certainly isn’t a memorable movie in the long run. Because despite having moments of hilarity the jokes do start to run a little stale by the closing act. When things wrap up about as commonly as you would expect. About My Father has spots of fun, Italians may enjoy it a little more than the general audience because there is a clear lack of ambition outside of the cultural laughs. It may not be a film to rush out to the theater for but it’s worth a one-time watch when it hits streaming and you can view it more casually.
Cast: Sebastian Maniscalco, Robert De Niro, Leslie Bibb, Anders Holm, Kim Cattrall, David Rasche Director: Laura Terruso Writers: Sebastion Maniscalco, Austen Earl Distributor: Lionsgate Films Running Time: 89 minutes Rating: PG-13 (Language, suggestive material, partial nudity) Year: 2023 Language: English Genre: Comedy
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2023 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.