Somewhere in Queens

The Russo Family in SOMEWHERE IN QUEENS. Photo Credit Mary Cybulski. Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

Somewhere in Queens is a fantastic film that will, undoubtedly, get a slightly biased review from me. That’s because it stars Ray Romano and, as we all know, everybody loves him. I’ve been a fan of Romano for years and knowing that he wrote, directed, and starred in this film meant that I was instantly in love. However, the entire cast is very impressive with recognizable names like Laurie Metcalf and Jennifer Esposito joining the ensemble. One surprise appearance for me was Sadie Stanley, best known as Brea Bee on The Goldbergs, appearing as Dani.

Somewhere in Queens follows an Italian-American family in Queens. The family patriarch, Pops Russo (Tony Lo Bianco) owns a construction company where his sons, Frank (Sebastian Maniscalco) and Leo (Romano) work along several other members of the family. Leo’s son, Sticks, is about to graduate high school and most of the family expects him to follow the rest of them into the family business. Sticks, however, is a stellar basketball player and has a shot at making his way to college on a scholarship.

A family drama about the generational differences within family would have been excellent on its own, but Somewhere in Queens is so much more than that. Sticks has a girlfriend, Dani (Stanley), who inspires him and gives him a newfound confidence. Known for being quiet and rarely speaking, Dani prompts Sticks to open up a bit and inspires him to show an interest in a college education and a basketball scholarship. The problem, however, is that not all relationships last and heartbreak would destroy Sticks and the progress that he has made. So, when the risk of heartbreak arises, Leo feels that he has no choice but to intervene. What happens next is the heart of the story.

While I won’t spoil what happens, I will say that it is a brilliant story and a joy to follow. It feels real from start to finish, perhaps because the family experiences were drawn from Romano’s experience.

I [was] always going back East for engagement parties, weddings, baptisms—family functions that take place in these catered halls–and there was a goldmine of material from these gatherings in terms of language and dialogue and gestures.

Ray Romano, writer/director/actor

On top of layering his own experiences, when creating the Russo family, Romano drew from his wife’s family. That feels special to me. What could be more heartfelt than blending your experiences with those of your spouse to paint a picture of a family on screen that is so clearly filled with love and passion. Are there difficult times? Of course. Is life a struggle? Always. Yet, somehow, you persevere and demonstrating that while drawing on both his and his wife’s experiences as Italian-Americans makes for a really special story. This is where the press notes are always my favourite part of a film. Learning that, along with the fact that Romano spent 7 years developing this script, really opened my eyes to how important this story is.

While, I don’t want to spoil what happens and how it plays out, I do want to tell you that it is a fun ride. This film is funny, but not laugh-out-loud, feel your belly shake funny. It is heartwarming, nostalgic, and humorous. It is equal parts comedy and drama and Romano manages to find the perfect balance to create a family that you want to sit down and eat pasta with because they feel real and they feel welcoming. Ultimately, that’s what this film is… welcoming. So, make a bowl of popcorn, grab a blanket, and settle in on the couch to enjoy it with your family because that’s the real story of the film… the love of family.

Somewhere in Queens was released in theatres on April 21.

Somewhere in Queens

Movie title: Somewhere in Queens

Movie description: Leo Russo (Ray Romano) lives a simple life in Queens, New York with his wife Angela (Laurie Metcalf), their shy but talented son “Sticks” (Jacob Ward), and Leo’s close-knit network of Italian-American relatives and neighborhood friends. Happy enough working at the family construction business alongside his father (Tony Lo Bianco) and younger brother (Sebastian Maniscalco), Leo lives each week for Sticks’ high-school basketball games, never missing a chance to cheer on his only child as he rules the court as a star athlete. When the high-school senior gets a surprising and life-changing opportunity to play basketball in college, Leo jumps at the chance to provide a plan for his future, away from the family construction business. But when sudden heartbreak threatens to derail Sticks, Leo goes to unexpected lengths to keep his son on this new path.

Date published: 2023-04-21

Director(s): Ray Romano

Actor(s): Ray Romano, Laurie Metcalf, Tony Lo Bianco, Sebastian Maniscalco, Jennifer Esposito, Jacob Ward, Sadie Stanley, Dierdre Friel, Jon Manfrellotti

Genre: Comedy, Drama

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