Everybody Wants to Be Italian



Opens Sept. 5 (Roadside Attractions)

Arriving several years too late to cash in on the enthusiasm for ethnic comedies generated by "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," "Everybody Wants to Be Italian" manages to offend Italians, Poles, and humanity in general. This lame-brain romantic comedy strives hard for a shambling charm, but is unlikely to prove appealing to even the most undemanding of audiences.

Director Todd Ipson's loosely autobiographical script concerns the awkward relationship that develops between Jake (Jay Jablonski), a hunky 27-year-old Polish owner of a fish store in Boston's Italian North End neighborhood, and Marisa (Cerina Vincent), a slightly older and gorgeous veterinarian who he meets in a Hollywood cute manner.

Two complications factor into their courtship. The first is the fact that Jake is still hung up on the woman who dumped him eight years earlier and fervently believes that they still have a relationship despite the fact that she's now married with three children. The second is that he, thinking that Marisa is Italian, pretends to be of the same ethnicity, with predictably wacky results.

While successful romantic comedies have been built on even slighter premises, the central male character here is so emotionally undeveloped that the proceedings take on a creepy undertone. It's also impossible to believe that this smart, sexy, sophisticated woman could possibly get hung up on him, despite his impressive washboard abs.

A predictable cast of supporting characters provides marginal comic relief. They include Jake's co-workers (John Kapelos, John Enos III), who offer endless amounts of romantic advice; an elderly Italian (Richard Libertini), who spouts the aphorism that provides the film its title; and an older neighbor of Marisa who counsels her that the way to a man's heart is, yes, through his stomach.

Clearly doing someone a favor but not doing herself any is Penny Marshall, who shows up for a cameo turn.

Cast: Jay Jablonski, Cerina Vincent, John Kapelos, John Enos III, Marisa Petroro, Richard Libertini.
Director/Screenwriter: Jason Todd Ipson
Producers: Jaime Burke, James Hunstman
Director of photography: Michael Fimognari
Production designer: Marla Altschuler
Music: Michael Cohen
Costume designer: Nicole Capasso
Editor: Mike Saenz
Rated R, 104 min.