BIG MAMMA'S BOY
Director: Franco di Chiera
Screenwriters: Frank Lotito and Matteo Bruno
Carmelina Di Guglielmo
Runtime: 98 mins.
Australian release date: 28 August 2011
Big Mamma's Boy is Franco di Chiera’s first feature and it’s been worth waiting for… kind of. An AFI Award winner, di Chiera is best known for his television documentaries, which include Under The Skin, The Joys Of Women and his kitschy but fun documentary, The Fabulous Flag Sisters, about a famous Italian drag act, Le Sorelle Bandiera, who were 'superstars' in Italy during the 70s.
All things Italian are obviously viewed fondly by di Chiera, so from the opening credits (which hark back to the films of Doris Day and Rock Hudson) we enter the entertaining world of an Italo-Australian family, complete with single 35-year-old Rocco (Frank Lotito), his mamma, Teresa (Carmelina di Guglielmo) and Rocco’s grandfather, (Osvaldo Maione). Mamma does everything for her son, cooking his meals, preparing his lunches for work and ironing his shirts. She even backs his car out of the driveway for him in the morning!
Set in the suburbs of Melbourne, usually considered more Greek than Italian, Rocco works for the Papandreos Real Estate Agency run by Theo (George Kapiniaris). The boss makes it quite clear that they are partners where food and ‘amore’ are concerned and any cultural barriers that may have existed are dismissed when the staff devour Teresa’s sumptuous morning teas, which she regularly brings to the office. Teresa is a true mamma: she doesn’t want Rocco to eat any food not prepared by her, doesn’t want him to move out, and above all, doesn’t want him to marry a non-Italian girl. You get the picture…
Enter Katie (Holly Valance), a beautiful, blonde ‘skip,’ who, you guessed it, Rocco falls for. The ensuing drama is pretty formulaic but, judging from the preview audience’s response, this was familiar territory and it garnered much laughter and even the occasional gasp. The loudest was when Mrs Cotoletta - which translates as cutlet - (Maria Venuti) shows Rocco how to gain domestic independence. There are also some funny scenes when Rocco moves in with his Greek workmate Anton (Steve Mouzakis), who lives in an apartment being paid for by his parents so that he can save up to buy his own place.
Big Mamma’s Boy is a fun romp with a great soundtrack of Italian pop songs and should do reasonably well at the box office - if the word gets out. The performances are all good, especially Frank Lotito, who is a stand-up comic in ‘real’ life. The script is light-hearted enough to make you leave with a smile on your face and a gnawing feeling in your stomach. I strongly suggest you go along and see this after a good meal, or at least have dinner planned afterwards.