Movie Mom

This warm-hearted dysfunctional family comedy-drama benefits from an exceptionally strong cast, including producer Andy Garcia as the father, Julianna Margulies as the mother, and Steven Strait as the young man just released from prison who sets off a series of revelations.

Everyone in the Rizzo family is hiding something. Daughter Vivian (Garcia’s real-life daughter, Dominik García-Lorido) is not in college as her parents think. She is supporting herself as a stripper. Her brother Vince Jr. (Ezra Miller) is struggling with his desire to see heavy women eat, especially his next door neighbor, who has a website called “Feeding Denise” and one of his classmates. Mom Joyce (Margulies) has not given up smoking. But it is Vince, Sr. who has the really big secrets. One, he has a son from a relationship before he met Joyce and he has just met the young man for the first time, at the prison where he is a corrections officer (don’t call him a guard) and his son (Strait, superb as Tony) is about to be released. Two, he wants to be an actor. He is taking classes with Michael Malakov (Alan Arkin) and has made friends with a classmate, Molly (Emily Mortimer).

Writer-director Raymond De Felitta has obvious affection for his characters and he keeps the developments from going too far. The situations may be outrageous, but deft performances keep the battles from being shrill and the situation more fairy tale than soap opera. This is one of those little indies that inspired a great deal of enthusiasm from its audience and should make even more fans on DVD.

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