Everyone in the Rizzo family has something to hide: Paterfamilias Vince (Andy Garcia) works as a corrections officer, but sneaks off for acting lessons; legal-secretary matriarch Joyce (Julianna Margulies) makes out with Tony (Steven Strait), the ex-con Vince has invited to live with them in the Bronx fishing village of the title; daughter Vivian (Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Andy's kid) lost her college scholarship and now strips; and teenage Vince Jr. (Afterschool's Ezra Miller) chases chubbies. The secrets and lies overstuff the plot -- a thread involving Vince and a fellow thesp hopeful played by Emily Mortimer is especially superfluous -- and set up too many misunderstandings played for laughs, culminating in the usual tidy conclusion of forgiveness and acceptance. But writer-director Raymond De Felitta (2000's Two Family House) keeps his comedy of dysfunction afloat with sharp specifics: "I went to Oneonta," Joyce protests at the dinner table after Vince warns his kids of the dead-end future of those who are B.A.-less, like Mom and Dad. An affectionate portrait of a lower-middle-class, outer-borough clan, City Island works best as an actor's showcase, with Margulies's aggrieved, simmering wife the stand-out. Though his accent is inconsistent, Garcia fully explores the corrosive consequences of having to conceal a dog-eared copy of An Actor Prepares in the bathroom.
April 2-8, 2010