In “Mambo Italiano” Angelo Barberini is the weird son of Italian immigrants, Gino and Maria who find themselves in Canada instead of the United States. Angelo gives his parents a shock when he decides to move out of the house, something most Italian children do only after they are married. But that is a small shock compared to the one he gives them when he tells them that he is gay. His boyfriend, a policeman, Nino Paventi is not so ready to swing open his closet door; especially since his mother is such a busybody. Life would be so easy for the guys if the parents were not involved. Angelo’s go almost crazy when he comes out. This is a zany comedy complete with oddball characters, witty dialog and lots of humor.
“Mambo Italiano” is a very clever little film. However in order to enjoy the film for what it is, you must overlook the stereotypical representations of Italians as pictured here. Somehow the makers of the film did not mention nor show that Italians give the film all of its charm and beauty.
The characters and situations shown in the movie are credible and very funny but they cannot be accepted for Italians as a whole. The stereotypical representations of Italians are just that—stereotypical representations and should not be interpreted to be anything more than that. In the movie they are not offensive but rather delightful. Angelo (Luke Kirby) as just enough humor but more than enough heart to make his character believable. The movie focuses on his journey of self discovery in relation to his family, to his partner and to his own self and sexuality.
The end of the film leaves you with a good feeling. Sometimes we need a movie in which everything turns out alright in the end to remind us how much fun life can really be.
Here is the story of gay guys who have repressive families and how the guys face the pressures of coming out. All is depicted for the sake of a laugh or two and it works. With the stereotypical portrayals of an ethnic group in the wrong place at the wrong time, we indeed get something to laugh about. The script is well written, the editing is excellent and the actors and the director hit all the right angles.
Angelo’s trails and tribulations are hilarious as he strives to find that inner voice as a writer while everything around him is both earthbound and mundane. The issue of gayness is dealt with by tactfulness and humility—these are rare qualities to find in movies that are supposedly pro-gay. Angelo is a man who likes men but he is also a man who feels pain. He loves and he has desires and he is not just a stereotype. He struggles with his identity just as his partner does—just as we all do.
The movie has many more strengths than limitations. It has moments of humor and it has some very dark moments but all in all it chooses to tell a story with humor and in that it is highly successful.