About My Father Movie Review
After three Meet The Parents films, it’s strange to see Robert De Niro playing a cantankerous parent in another film with the same premise. But unlike the comedies where he partnered with Ben Stiller, in which he played an ex-CIA spook who takes an intense dislike to his future son-in-law and was overly protective of his family. In About My Father, he plays an Italian hairdresser who loves his hotel manager son and feels he just wouldn’t fit in with the super rich parents of his son’s girlfriend. Unlike the previous films, his character is more relatable and humane. There are gags aplenty, including one involving a pet peacock being served as dinner but it all seems real over all. To give it a purely Bollywood context, it feels like a Govinda-Kader Khan film, minus the over the top melodrama and dance numbers.
Sebastian Maniscalco is a celebrated stand up comic who has done supporting roles in films like Green Book (2018) and The Irishman (2019). About My Father is his attempt towards playing a leading man. He has a likeable enough personality and the acting chops to boot for that, not to mention good comic timing. The film is based on his experiences with his own Italian immigrant father, who came to America at the age of 15 from Sicily and became a hairdresser.
Sebastian Maniscalco (playing himself) is a Chicago-based hotel manager of a boutique hotel who falls in love with an esoteric painter Ellie Collins (Leslie Bibb). She happens to be the daughter of Bill (David Rasche) and Tigger (Kim Cattrall), millionaires who own a chain of luxury hotels. He wants to propose to her during Fourth Of July holidays, the only glitch is that he wants to give her the ancestral ring which his father, hairdresser Salvo (Robert De Niro), doesn’t want to part with. Salvo, who is totally old school, thinks that Sebastian and Ellie are poles apart. Both are invited to be with Ellie’s family at an upscale club and slowly, a series of hilarious misadventures ensue that threaten Sebastian and Ellie’s impending union.
The situations in the film are funny as hell and the dialogue is witty as well. Sebastian Maniscalco and Robert De Niro both possess impeccable comic timing and it’s great to see them squaring off each other. They come across as a father and son couple who dote on each other, despite their differences. Their scenes together are the soul of the film. De Niro loves to feed off his co-stars and his scenes with Kim Cattrall too are funny as well. No one is a villain in the film. The rich in-laws try to impose their influences on Sebastian and Ellie but quickly draw back when they realise their mistake. There’s no major conflict as such. Everyone is nice to each other and resolve their differences with ease. But this isn’t jarring at all as the laughter keeps flowing.
Watch the film for the interaction between Sebastian Maniscalco and Robert De Niro, as also for its feel-good storyline.
Trailer : About My Father
Dhaval Roy, May 25, 2023, 3:30 PM IST
Story: Before proposing to his fiancée, Sebastian is invited to spend the weekend with her uber-rich and eccentric family. As he takes his Italian immigrant dad along, the clash of opposing cultures threatens to jeopardise his relationship. But he learns a profound lesson about his father and the familial bond.
Review: Robert De Niro has played an overprotective father terrorising his would-be son-in-law. While those stories focussed more on silly and unfortunate events unfolding, this one is centred around Salvo (Robert De Niro), an Italian immigrant hairdresser with a ‘resting b*tch face,’ who has raised his son Sebastian (Sebastian Maniscalco) in a typical manner. What should happen when a judgemental hard-to-please man comes face-to-face with a ridiculously wealthy and eccentric family? An interesting ride when the two parties collide. More so because each is quirky and rigid in their ways.
What director Laura Terruso serves is not a clash of people but cultures. On the one hand, we have a penny-pinching taskmaster, and on the other, parents who mollycoddle their children. Sebastian loves Ellie (Leslie Bibb) as deeply as Salvo loves his roots, and one of the two might need to give in. Who will win in this family vs fiancee game?
About My Father is about Sebastian Maniscalco and is loosely based on his relationship with his father. While one can imagine what that must be like in real life, on-screen, it’s a hilarious ride replete with clever humour and sarcasm. It does have its dose of slapstick comedy, as Ellie’s entitled brother Lucky (Anders Holm) decides to bully Sebasitian, and Salvo tries to fit in, causing some hilarious goof-ups.
Characterisation is its strong point since the movie is primarily about two families. From the middle-class Sicilian Salvo to the uppity Collins—Tigger (Kim Cattrall), her husband Bill (David Rasche), their overly spiritual younger son, Doug Collins (Brett Dier) and Lucky. The polar opposite worldviews and people make for an interesting narrative. Robert De Niro is outstanding, and his scenes with Sebastian, whether bonding despite being at odds or mocking the Collins’ foibles are well-done. While their chemistry shines, they deliver snarky lines with much aplomb and ease. Kim Cattrall is equally impressive as a strong-headed and snobbish woman. There’s a sequence about her getting a hairdo from Salvo, which is rather rib-tickling.
About My Father may not have a fresh premise, and the viewer knows what to expect, but the interactions between the characters and the funny dialogue give it a new take. The movie is worth visiting the theatres for performances and one-liners.
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