City Island Review
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Some families share their hopes, their dreams, and their deepest, darkest secrets. But the only thing that the Rizzos of New York’s City Island share is the occasional meal—and even that usually ends in disaster.

Everyone in the family is hiding a secret or two—especially Vince (Andy Garcia), a prison guard who secretly dreams of being an actor. But instead of telling his wife, Joyce (Julianna Margulies), that he’s taking an acting class in the city, he tells her that he’s playing poker. He plays poker an awful lot, though, and Joyce suspects that he’s actually having an affair.

But Vince has an even bigger secret: a 24-year-old secret named Tony (Steven Strait). Before he met Joyce, Vince was living with Tony’s mother. He left before his son was born, and they’d never met until Tony showed up in Vince’s prison. Now Vince has had Tony released to him for a 30-day provisional parole, and no one—not even Tony—knows why.

Of course, it’s not long before the Rizzos’ secrets start catching up to them—with amusingly over-the-top results.

City Island is a lovably madcap tale of secrets, lies, and second chances. Of course, the story is nothing new—and you’ll know where it’s going before it even begins. But writer/director Raymond De Felitta keeps an otherwise clichéd plot light and entertaining by loading it with hilariously overplayed scenarios—and he gets plenty of help from an exuberant cast, too.

The Rizzos are a stereotypically fiery Italian family—and they all have just one way of expressing their feelings. If they’re sad, they yell. If they’re angry, they yell. If they’re hungry, they yell. For that reason, family dinners usually erupt in accusations and insults, with the entire cast diving right in with relish. When it’s just the four of them, those heated mealtime discussions are pretty entertaining—but they’re absolutely hilarious when poor Tony comes along and finds himself caught in the middle.

Each member of the family, meanwhile, brings something to the story—whether it’s an unwelcome career choice, a hidden habit, or a bizarre feeding fetish. Though daughter Vivian (Dominik García-Lorido) doesn’t have a whole lot to work with and Vince Jr.’s (Ezra Miller) story is just plain strange, the cast holds nothing back. They’re obviously enjoying themselves, which makes the experience all the more enjoyable for the audience, too.

Garcia, especially, is in top form as the conflicted father who’s terrified of opening up to his wife and kids. He’s clueless and naïve—and his Brando impersonation alone makes the movie worth the price of a rental.

City Island is an indie comedy that offers a hearty helping of over-the-top humor, sprinkled with just a touch of heart. The story may be predictable, but this hilariously dysfunctional family is full of surprises.

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