In the mob world of "Friends and Family,'' a made guy can make out -- with another guy. These and other fantasies about The Family pepper this unusually slick, mini-budgeted and broad piece of slapstick that liberally borrows from Neil Simon and "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight'' with the twist that gay hit men are the romantic heroes.

In the mob world of “Friends and Family,” a made guy can make out — with another guy. These and other fantasies about The Family pepper this unusually slick, mini-budgeted and broad piece of slapstick that liberally borrows from Neil Simon and “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” with the twist that gay hit men are the romantic heroes. Helmer Kristen Coury and scribe Joseph Triebwasser thoroughly believe in this arch silliness, which qualifies them for a healthy career in television. A consummately pro cast and production values, combined with efficient, crowdpleasing dialogue, guarantee the ensemble comedy at least a long-term home in cable.

No debtor to the Mob is beyond the reach of enforcer-lovers Danny (Christopher Gartin) and Stephen (Greg Lauren), but Stephen’s parents (Beth Fowler, Frank Pellegrino) — making a surprise visit to the pair’s N.Y. pad with little advance warning — tax their skills. In this universe, gay men are the tough guys while straight men prefer cooking and sewing, so anything goes in a ridiculously tangled set of plotlines that manages to bring Greenwich drag queens face to face with right-wing militia in a swank ballroom.

Friends And Family

Production

A Charleson Pictures presentation in association with Belladonna Prods. Produced by Linda Moran, Kristen Coury, Joseph Triebwasser. Directed by Kristen Coury. Screenplay, Joseph Triebwasser.

Crew

Camera (color), John Leuba; editor, Tom Swarthout; music, Kurt Hoffman; production designer, Sonya Gropman; costume designer, Michelle Martini; sound, Theresa Radka. Reviewed at Outfest, L.A., July 16, 2001. Running time: 87 MIN.

With

Christopher Gartin, Greg Lauren, Rebecca Creskoff, Brian Lane Green, Tony Lo Bianco, Beth Fowler, Frank Pellegrino, Tovah Feldshuh, Patrick Collins, Lou Caronneau, Danny Mastrogiorgo, Anna Maria Alberghetti.
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