'Lost Cat Corona': Film Review

Lost Cat Corona - Ralph Macchio - H 2017
Courtesy of Choice Films
A cast of familiar faces makes this lightweight comedy go down easy.

Ralph Macchio stars in this Queens-set comedy about a man scouring the neighborhood for his lost feline.

Even if you’re a native New Yorker, there’s a good chance that you’ve never been to the Corona section of Queens. But you’ll certainly feel like you’ve been there after watching Anthony Tarsitano’s comedy, which serves as both a love letter to the neighborhood and a nice acting gig for a bunch of familiar faces whose careers have, let’s face it, seen better days. A mild diversion providing some nostalgic pleasures, Lost Cat Corona feels like the sort of project filmed on weekends when the cast was free.

Former Karate Kid Ralph Macchio plays the lead role of Dominic, a mild-mannered, working-class lug who doesn’t want to make waves, or, as he puts it, “I just want to get through my life unscathed.” His goal proves elusive during one long day when, at the insistence of his panicked wife Connie (Gina Gershon), he’s forced to look for their missing cat, Leonard.

So Dominic heads off in pursuit of the wayward feline, accompanied by his good-natured pal Ponce (David Zayas), the two of them riding a bicycle and scooter respectively. This being a quirky indie comedy, they soon discover a paper bag filled with blood-stained cash and a severed ear, and that doesn’t even turn out to be the strangest part of their day.

The episodic storyline features a gallery of colorful characters, including Sue (Jeff Kober), a low-level crook who threatens Dominic with a pool cue; Sal (Adam Ferrara), a dirty cop desperate to find money to pay off his gambling debts; Jimmy Pipes (Tom Wopat), a down-on-his-luck Vietnam vet distressed over the recent theft of his Purple Heart medal; Dominic’s Uncle Sam (Paul Sorvino), who offers his nephew down-to-earth advice about masculinity; and a pair of teen delinquents whose mother (Sean Young) can’t keep them in check.

The story’s ostensible theme — concerning Dominic overcoming his lifelong timidity, as illustrated in several childhood flashbacks — isn’t particularly interesting. But Macchio makes for an appealing everyman, and the veteran supporting players project an enjoyment in their stereotypical roles that proves infectious.

The film also serves as an effective travelogue of the titular neighborhood, with shots of every local landmark from the venerable Lemon Ice King of Corona (opened more than 70 years ago, and definitely worth the trek) to the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, with its iconic Unisphere. Considering the endless number of films shot in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Lost Cat Corona should at least be commended for throwing a spotlight on this cinematically underexposed area of New York City.

Distribution: Virgil Films
Production: Choice Films, City Squirrel Films
Cast: Ralph Macchio, Gina Gershon, David Zayas, Adam Ferrara, Paul Sorvino, Sean Young, Tom Wopat, Jeff Kober, Ajay Nadu
Director-screenwriter: Anthony Tarsitano
Producers: Tony Glazer, Summer Crockett Moore
Executive producers: Richard Mucci, Frank Sicoli, Anthony Tarsitano, Deborah Tarsitano
Director of photography: Chase Bowman
Production designer: Jeanelle Marie
Costume designer: Caitlin Conci
Music: Andrew Markus
Editor: Daniel Lowenthal
Casting: Judy Bowman

Not rated, 85 minutes