Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Frank Lotito.
Stars: Frank Lotito, Carmelina Di Gugliemo, Holly Valance, George Kapiniaris, Steve Mouzakis, Maria Venuti, Cassandra Magrath, Kristie Jandric, Joe Petruzzi, Nick Farnell, Costas Kilias, Pia Miller
No this is not another film in Martin Lawrence’s diabolically unfunny Big Momma’s franchise!
Taking its cues from the likes of They’re A Weird Mob and The Wogboy, Big Mamma’s Boy is a local comedy that trades on broad cultural stereotypes and potentially offensive ethnic centric humour for small laughs. To say that it makes the recent Nick Giannopoulos comedy Wogboy 2: The Kings Of Mykonos look sophisticated is to damn it with faint praise. This laboured and lacklustre comedy is excruciatingly unfunny, and falls flat.
Big Mamma’s Boy is the brainchild of former stand up comic Frank Lotito, who has not only written the script but also taken on the lead role. Lotito plays Rocco Pileggi, a 35-year old real estate agent, who stills lives at home with his overly protective and widowed mother Teresa (Carmelina Di Gugliemo, from Love’s Brother, etc). When he meets Katie (former pop star and Neighbours star Holly Valance), a rival real estate agent, he considers moving out of home, much to Mamma’s displeasure.
The sight gags and pratfalls are dated and clumsy. The unnecessary subplot in which Mamma mistakenly believes that Rocco is gay is a low point in the whole enterprise!
First time feature film director and co-writer Franco Di Chiera is an AFI award winner who comes from a background in documentary and television drama (Skin Deep, etc). But he seems unable to restrain his performers and instil in them a sense of subtlety, comic timing and nicely nuanced performances. Consequently most of the performances are hamfisted and awkward, and play to shrill stereotypes, over the top caricatures and exaggerated mannerisms.
Worst of all is Lotito, a terribly uncharismatic leading man, whose performance is flat and embarrassingly one-dimensional. Comic George Kapiniaris (from Acropolis Now and Fat Pizza, etc) also fares badly with his boisterous and over the top performance as Rocco’s colourful boss Theo. And as the potential love interest for our hero Rocco, Valance is unable to do much with a character that lacks depth.
Theatre veteran Di Gugliemo has a few good moments as Mamma, and a wonderful running joke sees her often on her death bed after collapsing following some of Rocco’s embarrassing gaffes. And veteran Maria Venuti (Pizza, A Fistful Of Flies, etc) brings a sultry and seductive quality to her improbable role as Rocco’s larger than life neighbour who willingly teaches him some of the essential survival skills for a potential bachelor – cooking, ironing, etc.
Big Mamma’s Boy is an embarrassingly inept and unfunny comedy that may have worked in the 70’s and 80’s when characters like Con The Fruiterer were popular characters. But now it just seems dated, and sets the cause of locally produced comedies back a decade!
However, there will obviously be an audience who will happily lap up this stuff.