‘Somewhere in Queens’: Tribeca review | Comments
Director: Ray Romano. WE. 2022. 104 minutes
Since the conclusion of his popular Emmy-winning sitcom Everybody loves RaymondRay Romano pivoted to become a dramatic actor skilled in everything from The big sick at The Irishman. But although his directorial debut finds him continuing to explore bittersweet and muted narrative ground, sadly this potentially nervous portrait of a bewildered middle-aged man trying to do good by his anxious teenage son stumbles along the way. Somewhere in Queens is a light-hearted drama about the danger of basing personal happiness on your children’s success, with Romano leveraging his warm sympathy to play a sad dad who’s far more manipulative than he cares to admit. The film takes commendable tonal chances, but succumbs all too easily to facile jokes and unconvincing plot twists.
As a filmmaker, Romano seems to question the concept of the “good guy”
Appropriately for its New York setting, Somewhere in Queens will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, and audience familiarity with Romano should help lure buyers. The picture’s low-stakes story, however, may make it a natural home viewing option, with theatrical release less certain.
Romano plays Leo, an ineffective husband and father who works for his Italian-American family’s construction company, where he is harassed by his father Pops (Tony Lo Bianco) and his bullying brother Frank (Sebastian Maniscalco). But Leo finds comfort in watching his high school son Sticks (Jacob Ward), who is otherwise clumsy and quiet, dominate on the basketball court, sparking the interest of a college recruiter. Leo wants Sticks to get an education so his boy doesn’t end up like him, but when Sticks’ relationship with his sunny girlfriend Dani (Sadie Stanley) takes a surprising turn, Leo decides to step in to secure a bright future for him. ‘teenager. .
Blending familiar scenes of Leo’s exuberant extended family with a more thoughtful look at a deeply dissatisfied patriarch, the image possesses the same understated charm that defined Romano’s on-screen persona. As usual, he portrays a painfully regular guy, although the script (co-written by Romano and Mark Stegemann) attempts to subvert expectations, highlighting why Leo has no one to blame but himself for his displeasure.
Consequently, the film is both sympathetic and critical of a man who often felt sorry for himself rather than trying to change his circumstances. As it quickly becomes apparent, although Leo wants the best for Sticks – a nickname given to him as a child due to his long legs – he also hopes to live vicariously through his son’s possible basketball stardom. . (Ward is quite touching as a shy, sheltered teenager whose emotional issues keep him stuck in his head.) The more time we spend with Leo as he begins to plot to get a scholarship for Sticks – and interferes with the his son’s love life – plus Romano lets his character’s more pathetic and needy qualities come to the fore.
There are attempts to flesh out Leo’s colorful working-class family — particularly his long-suffering, cancer-survived wife Angela (Laurie Metcalf), who is immediately suspicious of Sticks’ well-off girlfriend — but the performances tend to be wide and schtick-y. And when Leo springs into action, pushing his limits to protect Sticks, who suffers from anxiety and doesn’t handle adversity well, from potential heartbreak, Somewhere in Queens goes in an intriguing, dark direction that isn’t particularly believable. As a filmmaker, Romano seems to interrogate the concept of the “good guy” – the idealistic notion that fathers will do anything for their sons – but the dramatization of the image of Leo’s delusional belief that he is actually helping Sticks to prepare for a better life lacks much insight or sharp wit.
Of the supporting cast, Stanley does what she can as an idealized girlfriend who makes a halfway choice out of nowhere, while Jennifer Esposito has the thankless task of playing Pamela, a sympathetic widow who has hired Leo’s company to renovate his house. — it’s pretty predictable why his character is really part of the narrative, though. Somewhere in Queens has plenty of sweetness to go along with its wistful air, fitting a story about basically decent people navigating nagging regrets and fears. But much like Mark Orton’s intrusive score, the image strives for its emotional effects, lacking the nonchalant grace that Romano usually brings to his work.
Production companies: Bona Fide, Papa Al
International Sales: ICM, [email protected]
Producers: Albert Berger & Ron Yerxa, Ray Romano & Mark Stegemann
Screenplay: Ray Romano and Mark Stegemann
Production Design: Annie Simeone Morales
Editing: Robert Nassau
Photography: Maceo Bishop
Music: Mark Orton
Main Cast: Ray Romano, Laurie Metcalf, Jacob Ward, Sadie Stanley, Jennifer Esposito, Sebastian Maniscalco, Tony Lo Bianco