Mambo Italiano follows the story of an Italian immigrant family in Montreal. Angelo (Luke Kirby) is the son, and is struggling with the fact that he has to keep his homosexual identity a secret under his very conservative, traditional parents, who want nothing more than to set up him with a good Italian girl. Growing incredibly stressed under the thumb of his parents, Angelo decides to move out, causing even more tension in his family.
Soon he meets again with Nino (Peter Miller), a man who used to tease Angelo in school, who’s grown up to be a cop, and also a closeted gay man. The two swiftly begin a romance, moving in together while mutually trying to keep their relationship a secret. Naturally, this doesn’t work out well, as their respective families try to set them up on dates with good girls around the neighborhood.
Eventually Angelo’s family finds out his secret, leading to loving send-ups of conservative families and soft outrage. Surprisingly, Nino decides to stick to the straight-and-narrow path, trying to convert himself into a heterosexual by dating an Italian girl named Pina. The story continues to twist with unexpected outcomes and hilarious twists, leading to a heartwarming conclusion.
“This is feel-good filmmaking, to be sure, but the culture clash here is more than a meaningless vehicle for fizzy wish fulfillment. The not-unpleasant result is hearty Italian fare with the half-life of Chinese takeout.”
— Scott Brown, Entertainment Weekly
“No sophisticated dance, but it moves about with an open heart. And hey, it’s at least as funny as that Greek thing.”
— Janice Page, Boston Globe
“The casting of characters Lina (Ginette Reno) and Gino (Paul Sorvino) is genius, and there are so many wonderful comedic moments throughout the film. Comedy is often used to mask pain and to me there is a sad undercurrent. But that’s important, life naturally works against desire, otherwise we wouldn’t grow and develop.”
— Alexander Ryll, Gay Essential
Did You Know?
Mambo Italiano was based on a play by Steve Galluccio, which was written based off of his own real-life experiences growing up in an immigrant community in Montreal. The film was purchased by the same distributor who was responsible for My Big Fat Greek Wedding, at the same time, and hinged its success on being a feel-good movie with a bankable American film star, Paul Sorvino. Review our Gay Themed Films Here