Here’s an excruciating foot-dragger of a comedy about how an Italian immigrant makes his way to New York where he then makes his mark, as a waiter — inventing an ice cream dessert when the kitchen runs out of pastries.
The “American Fango” — “mud” in Italian — of the title is invented in the film’s first scene. “Excruciating” kicks in as the film struggles, through long, unfunny and uninteresting flashbacks, to get us back to that “beginning.”
Francesco (Brando Boniver) was a struggling actor in Italy who figures he’ll try his luck in America when a pretty blonde he met on a set (Emily Jackson) invites him to LA.
But the sex and sand of Malibu is just a tease, as Christine suddenly announces she’s got a film to shoot in India. For the first but not the last time, handsome Francesco, who is a mouth-watering temptation to every American woman he meets, is left in the lurch by a lady.
The tedious middle acts have our hero stumbling from apartment to Days Inn, from Venice Beach to Brooklyn, where he is alternately helped, and let down, by various actresses whom he’s met on sets in Rome.
“American women, they change their mind like they change their hairstyle!” his corny actor pal Massimo (Alexander Mannara) opines, because you know actors can’t think of anything funny to say without somebody else writing it for them.
I was almost amused by pretty boy Francesco’s shock SHOCK at discovering Christine and then other actresses are self-absorbed. Just like him.
The movie makes banal points about New York actors helping each other more than L.A. actors do, about actors needing waiting jobs so desperately that there’s an “agent of waiters” (Gaetano Iacono).
Keep an eye out for the actress who “ghosts” Francesco the hardest. Kathy (Samantha Scaffidi) has a married, wealthy boyfriend who keeps disappointing her. Whatever Tony (Brian Vincent) lacks in charm or faithfulness, he is the ONLY amusing character in “American Fango.”
He’s a stereotype, a goombah who warns Francesco away from Kathy, who is letting him crash on her sofa.
“I put about $200,000 into this girl over the past year,” is how he starts. And “Keep your little ziti in cold water” is how he gets to the point.
So many scenes do nothing but delay Francesco’s hiring as an inept but handsome waiter in a New York Italian restaurant. So many scenes go on and on past their possible (not really) “payoff.”
The performances start with promise, but the script limits the players because every character is more colorless than the one before.
And the finale is as soggy a noodle as every waterlogged, droopy moment that’s preceded it.
There have been so many movies about coming to America and struggling to get on one’s feet, it’d be a shame to waste more than a few minutes on “American Fango” confirming my review. This one never gets out of its own way.
MPAA Rating: TV-MA, sexual situations
Cast: Brando Boniver, Samantha Scaffidi, Emily Jackson, Maggie Wagner, Victor Colicchio
Credits: Directed by Gabriele Altobelli, script by Gabriele Altobelli and Brittany McComas. An Artist Connection/Amazon release.
Running time: 1:44