About My Father – New De Niro comedy delves into family dynamics
When it comes to family, everyone has, at some point, been at least a little bit embarrassed by theirs. Often, this is driven by a difference in the attitudes, values and viewpoints between one generation and another.
This is the case in ABOUT MY FATHER, a film which is loosely based on the life of accomplished Italian-American stand-up comedian Sebastian Maniscalco, who stars as himself, and his relationship with his father Salvo, who is played by the legendary Robert De Niro.
The comedy, directed by award-winning screenwriter, producer and director Laura Terruso, sees the two-time Oscar winning De Niro play a headstrong Italian-American father whose commitment to tradition clashes with his son’s efforts to make a good impression on the affluent and slightly eccentric family of his girlfriend Ellie, played perfectly by Leslie Bibb.
The drama starts when Salvo strongarms Sebastian, who is planning to propose to Ellie, into taking him along for a Fourth of July getaway at her family’s summer estate. As a first-generation immigrant Salvo, a hairdresser, has been chasing the American Dream, while Ellie’s wealthy family lives it. Additionally, his tough and unaffectionate way conflicts with that of Ellie’s unashamedly affectionate and caring family. This results is the weekend developing into what can only be described as a combination of culture and generational clashes, with some surprising results.
Maniscalco describes the film as being “about two different families, from very different socioeconomic backgrounds, colliding during a holiday weekend, before they realise that those differences are what make them unique”. The plot was inspired by his own experience meeting his wife’s family, although admittedly, most of the hijinks are heightened and fictionalised for laughs.
While the film boasts some wild and hilarious clashes, it is also filled with moments of heartfelt emotion and warmth. Says Bibb: “It’s wild and fun, and a good reminder to keep the ones we love close.”
According to Austen Earl, who co-wrote the script with Maniscalco, the film can be described as a romantic comedy – not just between a man and a woman, but also between a man and his father. “Sebastian’s character had grown up thinking this man is his hero, but as he got out into the world, he began to feel that his father was kind of embarrassing. As Sebastian continues to live his life, though, he realizes that his father is the reason he is who he is, and that realisation rekindles his love for his father.”
In addition, ABOUT MY FATHER reaffirms the values of family and love and serves as reminder that, when it comes to family, we sometimes need to reach across divides.
“Everybody’s got a family member they might butt heads with, but at the end of the day, it’s all about family; it’s all about loving one another,” concludes Maniscalco.
ABOUT MY FATHER is distributed locally by Filmfinity Pty (Ltd.) and will be released in South African cinemas on 26 May 2023.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txLSE7tpgr0
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