2009, Movies

City Island (2009, Raymond De Felitta)

I don’t know if there’s a name for the subgenre of films in a which a person comes into a family’s life and helps them solve their problems, but there should be. If there isn’t, I propose “Magic Stranger”.

This “magic stranger” film combines that with the manic pixie dream girl (with a major modification) and a heavy 2000s American indie comedy vibe. (Imagine an American 21st century indie comedy with a manic pixie dream girl! Never happens!) The cliches of the American indie comedy are present, except that the film is set on City Island in the Bronx, and features an Italian American family. (Oh yeah, and the score is a conventional movie score, and not the twee indie pop that usually accompanies these things.)

I don’t particularly like this family and I don’t like being around them. But at least the movie acknowledges that – I mean, otherwise what would the magic stranger fix? There are some variations to the usual plot, which I won’t spoil, which make the story at least a little more effective than it can be.

I also laughed out lout a few times, which counts for a lot in my books. Watching these types of films and not laughing is not a fun experience. So I was happy that there were some jokes that landed pretty well.

But, having seen a lot of these films at this point, there was just a little too much familiarity to me. Even though I didn’t know the exact arc of the plot – though I could have guessed – and though I laughed somewhat, this just feels like another one of the numerous films of its ilk that came out in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Only this time it’s an Italian family. I’m not sure that’s enough to recommend it.


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