SOMEWHERE IN QUEENS – A Review by Cynthia Flores
This film is all about well-known comedian Ray Romano. You remember him from the hit TV sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. This film is a labor of love for his beloved Italian heritage and the city of Queens, New York. Mr. Romano is this movie’s star, co-screenwriter, producer, and first-time director, so he has a lot of pressure to deliver.
Somewhere In Queens tells the story of Leo Russo (Ray Romano), a man in his mid-50s that lives a simple life in Queens, New York. He works for the family construction business alongside this friend (Jon Manfrellotti). They answer to Leo’s little brother (Sebastian Maniscalco) and father (Tony Lo Bianco), who will bust your chops sooner than look at you. Leo is happily married to his high school sweetheart Angela (Laurie Metcalf). She beat cancer but is still dealing with the lingering emotional fallout.
They are both naturally proud of their quiet and talented only child, “Sticks” (Jacob Ward). They call him that because he was born tall with long skinny legs. He’s in the last part of his senior year of high school. His dad, Leo, lives for the time each week that he can cheer on his son at his basketball games. Reliving his own glory days on the court. Sticks is a star on the team and is a great player.
When Sticks unexpectedly gets a surprising and life-changing chance to try out for a college on a basketball scholarship, Leo jumps at the opportunity to plan for a better life for his son away from the family business. Everything is going well until Sticks’ fiery non-Italian girlfriend Dani Brooks (Sadie Stanley) breaks up with him a few weeks before the tryouts. His depression and heartbreak threaten to derail his chance at the tryouts. Nevertheless, Leo will go to surprising lengths to keep his son focused on this opportunity to do better than he has.
This film is a heartfelt and humorous love letter to Italian families and the spirit of Queens, NY. The city should have been listed as another much-loved character of this quirky cast, which includes Jennifer Esposito as a lonely and flirty widow and the hilarious Dierdre Friel as the only sister in Leo’s close-knit, loud family. She is single and looking for love as this close network of Italian American relatives and neighborhood friends gather for weddings, christenings, and all those Sunday dinners.
Overall, Somewhere In Queens works because the humor is blended with relatable and sometimes painful human truths. This film has no heavy thinking or flashy out-of-control destructive emotional storylines. Instead, it has characters to which everyone who has lived through the mess of family and life can relate with. You’d get it even if you weren’t lucky enough to be born into an Italian family.
I give Somewhere In Queens 4 stars. It’s a solid debut for the well-known funnyman Ray Romano. I hope he does more directing in the future.
Directed by: Ray Romano
Written by: Ray Romano & Mark Stegemann
Running Time: 1h 46 min
Limited Theatrical Release: April 21st AMC Parks @ Arlington, Stonebriar 24, Firewheel 18, Grapevine Mills 30, Mesquite 30, Cinemark West Plano 20, Legacy 24
Starring: Ray Romano, Laurie Metcalf, Tony Lo Bianco, Sebastian Maniscalco, Jennifer Esposito, Jacob Ward, Sadie Stanley, Deirdre Friel, Jon Manfrellotti
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie/show, well worth the time and price.
4 Stars – Good movie/show
3 Stars – OK movie/show
2 Stars – Well, there was nothing else…
1 Star – Total waste of time.