As comedic films about highly dysfunctional families go, City Island is high up on the list in terms of general quality. After seeing the trailer months ago I knew I had to see this movie, and even though it took awhile, I eventually got around to it. Directed by Raymond De Felitta, City Island tells the story of prison guard Vince Rizzo (Andy Garcia) and his family members, one of whom is in prison and doesn’t know that Rizzo is his father.

Honestly, I’ve never seen Garcia in many films in which he took on the lead role, most of the time he’s a supporting character or acting as a villain. To see him as a regular joe, who aspires to be nothing more than an actor, but remaining ever fearful that his family won’t understand his dreams, is refreshing. Garcia hasn’t usually taken such heart-felt roles previously and hell if I can understand why, for the man is a terrific actor.

Frankly, everyone gives off wonderful performances, with familial scenes that are easily relatable to. If you’re from a loud family or know of one, then there are definitely moments that will stand out. The movie, taking place on City Island, right off New York, has the atmosphere of such, with a down to earth feel.

City Island isn’t necessarily a tear jerker, but all the while you are rooting for Garcia, feeling his pains and triumphs, hoping all the meanwhile that his dreams will become realized. Right there is something the movie succeeds in accomplishing: making the audience sympathize with the protagonist(s). As I’ve come to realize over the course of many years of film viewing, this is not as easy as it sounds. But Garcia is not the only character who we care for in the movie, his wife and children are especially interesting folk, with his youngest son being mysteriously obsessed with their terribly obese neighbor. Garcia’s daughter, home for spring break, is not really home for spring break, having lost her scholarship and has taken up pole dancing to get herself back in college. Of course everyone is blissfully unaware of everyone else’s problems…for awhile. The revelatory scene where all hell breaks loose is nothing short of marvelous,with the writing crisp as can be and the directing superb.

Right now there are not a great deal of fine pieces of cinema out there, instead we have a multitude of easily forgettable “stuff.” City Island is energetic and funny, making you leave the theater a happier person. While not your typical comedy, due to how the script is carefully woven together and mildly convoluted, City Island is a movie that almost guarantees you a great time.

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