I remember when Midnight Run came out. Not only one of the best comedies of the ‘80s, it was sort of a revelation. Here was none other than Hollywood's most renowned method actor, Robert De Niro, doing comedy, something he was definitely not known for at the time. And a huge part of what made the film so damn funny is because it was De Niro.
But that was decades ago and the novelty has long-since worn off. I wouldn’t quite accuse him of coasting (not to his face, anyway), but De Niro has lent his name to some pretty uninspired, occasionally godawful comedies over the years.
About My Father isn’t quite godawful, nor is it particularly inspired. The main protagonist is comedian Sebastian Maniscalco, who co-wrote the screenplay, which is partially based on his relationship with his own dad. However, De Niro’s character plays like a composite of other stubborn, grumpy old men he’s been doing lately. As such, he’s not bad, but not required to bring anything new to the table.
|"Get your own plate."|
Ellie’s family are caricatures of overbearing privileged rich folks we’ve seen plenty of times before, leading to the usual clash of classes and cultures. Some of it’s funny, but seldom uproarious. There are also moments of crude broad comedy for the yahoo crowd, as well as a few half-hearted attempts at sentiment and insight, indicative of a film that can’t seem to pick a tone and stick with it.
Maniscalco and De Niro are good, their characters being the only ones given anything resembling depth. The rest of the cast - including Davis Rasche and Kim Cattrall - does what they can with thankless, one-dimensional roles. Ultimately, About My Father is the kind of lightweight, predictable comedy one tends to forget shortly after watching.
FEATURETTES - One Big Happy Family: The Making of About My Father; Sebastian: The Big Stage to the Big Screen; About My Look: From Frugal to Fancy.
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