Vince: My name is Vince Rizzo and I live on City Island. On City Island there are two types of people: Muscle Suckers and Clam Diggers. Muscle Suckers are those who have come from off the island to live here. Clam Diggers are those who were born on the island and decided to stay. I'm a Clam Digger.
A solid human comedy about a family who's individual secrets slowly become revealed to each other. The film stitches a number of subplots involving each family member together into a film that is quite funny and quite clever, and very entertaining throughout.
Andy Garcia stars as Vince Rizzo, a corrections officer (prison guard) living outside the Bronx on City Island. While he has had his job for many years, providing support for his family, he secretly wishes to become an actor. He hides this from his family, claiming to go to poker nights, when he really attends an acting class, with a teacher played by Alan Arkin. Besides this big secret he has, another larger secret stumbles back into Vince's life in the form of a convict, who is in fact Vince's son. The convict, Tony, played by Steven Strait, was born after Vince had walked out on his mother, but now he has managed to make his way back in Vince's life by landing in the jail Vince works at. As the crime was not that sincere, Tony can be let into someone's custody for a month and then go free, leading to a brash decision to be made by Vince. Even though he hasn't told Tony his true connection, Vince brings Tony into his home life.
Beyond Vince's secrets, the rest of the family are also hiding little things from each other. Vince's wife, Joyce played by Julianna Margulies, believes that the "poker games" actually mean Vince is cheating on her. Vince's son is taking starting to act on his fetish for larger women. And Vince's daughter (played by Garcia's real life daughter) is home for spring break, except she is actually missing all her shifts for work...at a strip club. Maybe having Tony around can help bring together this family for the better...
Vince: I wanna have a big home-cooked dinner tonight. You know, something special.
Joyce:...You want balloons or something?
Vince: No, I don't balloons or something, I'm just saying I want something nice.
Joyce: When do I not make it nice!
Vince: Make something nicer!
Joyce: Make it yourself!
The film was written and directed by Raymond De Felitta who has the tricky job of establishing multiple characters, all with there own stories and somehow bringing all of these elements together, which he does very well. This could have easily fell into territory that was way too sitcomy or mishandled, but thanks to a strong script that is very funny due to the quirky, Bronx accent infused characters and numerous awkwardly hilarious exchanges, as well as quality cast, the movie succeeds overall.
Garcia is very good in the lead. He brings both the attitude of his strong stature that he has developed over the years, along with a quiet insecurity that makes his secret desire to be an actor all the more endearing. Margulies is also good, mainly due to the chemistry she shares with Garcia, being able to have yelling matches with one another that give off a vibe that though they may do this often, they are an experienced married couple. Strait, miles away from his star turn in 10,000 B.C., is quite good as well, essentially playing the straight-man role, as he is introduced to the lives of this dysfunctional family. Emily Mortimer also stars as a friend of Vince's from his acting class, and its always nice to see her around.
The film certainly benefits from its strong cast of characters and it is once again, made better by its direction, along with a solid score for the film and some nice photography of the island along with some shots of New York.
All around, a very solid family comedy.
Vince: Truth is stranger than family.