Directed by Émile Gaudreault, starring Luke Kirby, Ginette Reno, Paul Sorvino, Mary Walsh, Peter Miller, Claudia Ferri and Sophie Lorain.

'Mambo Italiano' is a wannabe ethnic comedy along the lines of 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' - but it isn't quite able to pull it off.

Central character and narrator Angelo Barberini (Kirby) is the son of Maria and Gino (Reno, Sorvino) who, although they emigrated from Italy decades earlier - accidentally settling in Canada rather than America - live in a world entirely populated by Italian stereotypes. Playing on the joke that the Italian community is insular and conservative, Angelo really upsets the tiramisu when he leaves home to move in with his childhood friend - and lover - Nino (Miller).

He wants to tell his family that he's gay but Nino's much happier in the closet and Angelo's unwanted announcement creates consternation on all sides. Angelo's pill-popping, orally-fixated sister Anna (Ferri) goes shrink-hopping, there are histrionics from Maria and Gino and, worst of all, Nino starts doing more than looking sideways at high school acquaintance Pina (Lorain).

The frenetic heightened reality of 'Mambo Italiano' is accentuated by day-glo colours and fabulous set dressing, but nothing can compensate for the characters' - or caricatures' - lack of development. It's very easy to lose sympathy for the whiny Angelo, while Maria's and Gino's over-emoting gets all too much too soon.

The screenplay, adapted from his hit semi-autobiographical play by Steve Galluccio in collaboration with director Émile Gaudreault, is occasionally amusing but, overall, the clichéd and simplistic 'Mambo Italiano' is one to watch at home. 

Caroline Hennessy