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The script for Emile Gaudreault’s Mambo Italiano makes a certain Greek screenwriter look like a big fat lazy ass. Why limit your barbs merely to one ethnicity when there are adopted countries and alternative lifestyles to make fun of as well? Based on a play by trilingual Montrealer Steve Galluccio, Mambo blames not only tangles with ethnic outsiders, but also Canada and gays for its kooky familial unrest. The story is revealed as 20-something Angelo Barberini (Luke Kirby) tells his troubles to a gay hot line, starting with his current living situation and going back to the time when his Italian immigrant parents mistakenly settled in Canada. (“Nobody told us there were two Americas,” exasperated dad Paul Sorvino tells the camera. “The real one, the United States, and the fake one, Canada!”) The flashbacks reveal the expected—Old World parents and struggling-to-be-modern kids—and unfold with such histrionic broadness that you begin to anticipate a full 90 minutes of head-smacking and “Whatsa matta, you?” When Angelo’s tale catches up to the present, however, Mambo takes a breath and digs a bit deeper than oddly pronounced differences in perspective: Angelo is troubled by the closeted life he’s living with his boyhood friend and partner, Nino (Peter Miller), and his desire to come out is complicated by both the prospect of his family’s disapproval and Nino’s wishes. When the truth is eventually told, the movie turns surprisingly fresh, its humor managing to be both risqué and heartfelt (a battle of unlikely gay pride has the lovers’ parents arguing over who’s “the banger”), its message of acceptance made all the more touching by the main characters’ stubbornness. Kirby gives Angelo a sweet vulnerability that stays just this side of bumbling, and the relative restraint of the rest of the cast (mostly veterans of Canadian stage and screen) is an asset that becomes better appreciated whenever Sorvino has our attention: The exaggerated accents and sweeping gestures of the Barberini clan are somehow less acceptable when performed by an actor who should know better. —Tricia Olszewski