×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ciao America

Think of it as "My Big Fat Italian Football Team." Featherweight sports pic-cum-romantic comedy "Ciao America" reps the second foray into self-distribution (via a partnership with exhib giant National Amusements) for Boston-based filmmaker brothers Frank and Joseph Ciota, whose "The North End" premiered in 1997.

With:
Young Lorenzo - Anthony Di Nanno Grandfather Lorenzo - Antonio Navarro Lorenzo Primavera - Eddie Malavarca Professor Angelini - Vittorio Amandola Giulio Fellini - Maurizio Nichetti Massimo Ferrarese - Michele Bertelli Frank Mantovani - Anthony DeSando Tenente Luca Ruzzi - Umberto Franchini Paola Angelini - Violante Placido Alex Guio - Pierpaolo Lovino Bongo - Vincenzo Amato Giova - Marco Basile Morandi - Paolo Napizia Skip Cromwell - Nathaniel Marston Isabella - Claudia Gamberini Moretti Peter Marcucci - Tiziano Tassan Zio Felice - Giancarlo Giannini Antonio Primavera - Paul Sorvino Alessia - Elisa Soffritti

Think of it as “My Big Fat Italian Football Team.” Featherweight sports pic-cum-romantic comedy “Ciao America” reps the second foray into self-distribution (via a partnership with exhib giant National Amusements) for Boston-based filmmaker brothers Frank and Joseph Ciota, whose “The North End” premiered in 1997. Never less than pleasant and genteel, but rarely more, this handsomely produced, dramatically slack fish-out-of-water story looks destined for the small screen (unfortunately impinging on its attractive widescreen compositions), though its brief theatrical run may see modest niche biz in East Coast cities with large Italian-American populations.

Though produced with American funding, pic resembles English-lingo international co-productions, with nary a scene set in the U.S., an entirely Italian crew and the presence of well-known Italian thesps Maurizio Nichetti and Giancarlo Giannini in key supporting roles. In fact, Nichetti (sometimes called the Italian Woody Allen, and perhaps best known for his 1989 pic “The Icicle Thief”) nearly walks off with “Ciao America,” delivering a sidesplittingly funny perf as the flummoxed manager of an American-style football team in a small Italian town. (Pic was lensed predominately in Ferrara, with additional work in Florence and Naples.) Bostonian Lorenzo Primavera (Eddie Malavarca), traveling to Italy at the behest of his late grandfather (Antonio Navarro), is recruited by Giulio Fellini (Nichetti) to coach his fledgling team.

Joseph Ciota’s screenplay is loosely based on the writer’s own experiences coaching American-style football abroad. Pic skimps on many of the expected sports-movie cliches with the football team as the background for the film rather than its focus. Gridiron action shown is among the least urgent ever put on film (though that’s part of the point).

Unfortunately, what gets substituted isn’t always that compelling — namely, the forced romance between Lorenzo and Paola (beautiful Violante Placido, daughter of Simonetta Stefanelli), the daughter of a local university professor. Lorenzo’s blossoming affection for Paola keeps him in Italy beyond his expected departure date, but the scenes between Malavarca and Placido have no real spark.

Pic fares somewhat better with a subplot concerning Lorenzo’s investigation of his family history, during which he discovers the real reasons for his grandfather’s emigration to America. In a lovely turn, the inimitable Giannini appears as Lorenzo’s long-lost granduncle, and there are some truly magnificent landscape shots of the Italian countryside as Lorenzo travels to his family’s home town of Avelino. In pic’s best moments, like Lorenzo’s climactic confrontation with his Americanized father (a spirited Paul Sorvino), there’s a sense of all that the emigrant generation desired for its offspring.

However, Malavarca is not strong enough as the lead and film never quite coheres in spite of director Ciota’s obvious visual talents and the generally fine work his elicits from his Italian cast. Pic’s richness in its observances of local customs and culture is enhanced by Giulio Pietromarchi’s accomplished lensing and Andrea (son of Ennio) Morricone’s fine score.

Ciao America

Production: A Roger Marino presentation in association with Mavex Film Prods. Produced by Roger Marino. Executive producers, Conchita Airoldi, Dino Di Dionisio. Directed by Frank Ciota. Screenplay, Joseph A. Ciota.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor Rome; widescreen), Giulio Pietromarchi; editor, Tia Schellstede; music, Andrea Morricone; production designer, Enrico Serafini; sound (Dolby Digital Surround EX), Filippo Porcari; assistant director, Andrea Marrari; casting, Sheila Jaffe, Georgianne Walken (U.S.), Shaila Rubin (Italy). Reviewed at the Bridge, L.A., Sept. 17, 2002. Running time: 101 MIN.

With: Young Lorenzo - Anthony Di Nanno Grandfather Lorenzo - Antonio Navarro Lorenzo Primavera - Eddie Malavarca Professor Angelini - Vittorio Amandola Giulio Fellini - Maurizio Nichetti Massimo Ferrarese - Michele Bertelli Frank Mantovani - Anthony DeSando Tenente Luca Ruzzi - Umberto Franchini Paola Angelini - Violante Placido Alex Guio - Pierpaolo Lovino Bongo - Vincenzo Amato Giova - Marco Basile Morandi - Paolo Napizia Skip Cromwell - Nathaniel Marston Isabella - Claudia Gamberini Moretti Peter Marcucci - Tiziano Tassan Zio Felice - Giancarlo Giannini Antonio Primavera - Paul Sorvino Alessia - Elisa Soffritti

More Film

  • J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church

    SXSW Film Review: 'J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius'

    Like 8mm films of 1960s “happenings” or videos of 1970s performance art, “J.R. ‘Bob’ Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius” chronicles a cultural footnote that perhaps should be filed under the heading You Had to Be There. The satirical-absurdist “religion” founded by some Texans actually caught fire among hipsters in the 1980s, influencing some [...]

  • 'Roll Red Roll' Review: Piercing Documentary

    Film Review: 'Roll Red Roll'

    “Roll Red Roll” is a piercingly relevant and disturbing documentary about an infamous high school rape case that took place in Steubenville, Ohio (pop. 18,600), on Aug. 11, 2012. Steubenville, the sort of Friday-night-lights small town that boasts signs that read “Kick off for Jesus,” is a place that’s good at keeping secrets. When the [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild, Hollywood Agents Negotiate With Deadline Looming

    The Writers Guild of America and Hollywood agents have held a sixth negotiating session with a deadline for a new deal 16 days away — and it’s uncertain whether progress is being made. The Association of Talent Agents made counter-proposals at Thursday’s session that contain provisions for more accountability and transparency by agencies for clients [...]

  • Fox Layoffs

    Fox Layoffs Leave Staffers Stunned and Saddened

    Fox employees knew this day was coming. For over a year, the men and women who work at the Century City lot have talked of little else but severance packages and job searches. They knew that when Disney wrapped up its $71.3 billion acquisition of much of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets, thousands [...]

  • Alan Horn Disney

    Disney Clarifies Film Leadership After Harrowing Day of Fox Layoffs

    Following the dismissal of top executives in distribution, marketing and strategy on Thursday, new 20th Century Fox owner Disney has clarified its new top leadership. Five distinct Fox labels and a portion of their leadership have been welcomed into the Disney fold, the company said. This includes Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Family, Fox Searchlight Pictures, [...]

  • Janelle Monae

    Film News Roundup: Janelle Monae to Star in Film From Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz

    In today’s film news roundup, Janelle Monae will star in a Lionsgate movie, Bill Nighy joins “Emma,” and documentaries on surfer Bethany Hamilton and Asbury Park are dated. CASTINGS More Reviews SXSW Film Review: 'J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius' Film Review: 'Roll Red Roll' Janelle Monae will star in an untitled [...]

  • Blair Rich Marketing Summit

    Studio Marketing Chiefs Discuss the Theatrical vs. Netflix Oscars Debate

    On a day where a large part of the Fox marketing department was wiped out in the aftermath of the Disney merger, a group of marketing chiefs from other studios and streamers sat down at the Variety Entertainment Marketing Summit presented by Deloitte “to discuss the issues shaping the feature marketing landscape today, including the theatrical [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content