Writer-director-producer Roger Paradiso's loud, broad film, made in 2004 but not released until 2007, is adapted from the long-running improvisational theater piece in which the audience plays the part of guests at the ill-fated wedding of Tina Vitale (Mila Kunis of That '70s Show) and Tony Nunzio (former New Kid on the Block Joey McIntyre). Paradiso replaces the show's interactive element with the conceit that it's a mockumentary shot by a pretentious student filmmaker (Guillermo Diaz).
Saturday, June 25, 1988: There's no love lost between the Nunzio and Vitale families, who grew up together in a tough Queens, New York, neighborhood. The Vitales moved to Massapequa, Long Island, and made a good living in the, um, sanitation-engineering business; they think the Nunzios are trashy. The Nunzios stayed in the old neighborhood, supported by a family-owned strip joint called the Animal Kingdom, and think the Vitales are stuck-up. Complicating matters further is the high-school romance that blossomed briefly between Josefina Vitale (Priscilla Lopez) and Anthony Nunzio Sr. (John Fiore) before Josefina married her beloved and recently deceased Vito. But their kids are in love, so the families agree to make peace... at least for the duration of the wedding. Naturally, the reception — held in the Paradiso Room of Vinnie Black's (Richard Portnow) Coliseum, a Roman-themed catering hall with animal-print accents — quickly devolves into a riot of ethnic stereotypes and relatives behaving badly. Incontinent Uncle Lui (Clement Fowler) pees in the ornamental fountain, the priest (Dean Edwards) gets drunk, Tina's old boyfriend Michael (a pre-Entourage Adrian Grenier) crashes the reception and makes a drunken scene, the bridesmaids (Daisy Eagan, Kim Director, Vanessa Paradis — not the French singer-actress) squabble, the best man (Matthew Saldivar) deals pot, and Grandma Nunzio (Letty Serra) complains that none of the young people speak Italian. The liquor flows freely and the newlyweds are at each other's throats before the cake is served.
Apparently inspired by the idea that the '80s are funny and the fact that MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING (2002) — a low comedy of clashing cultures and wedding bell blues — was a surprise hit, this misbegotten adaptation hits its high point before it ever starts, with the "Pez Brothers Cinemas" pre-film slide show, complete with Long Island-centric movie quiz and tacky mock ads for local businesses, including Animal Kingdom and Vinnie Black's Coliseum. After that, it's all mean-spirited, foulmouthed sniping about oversexed tramps, philandering horndogs and Italians with big mouths and no taste. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh