Monday, September 25, 2023

An honest review of “About My Father” from an immigrant child’s perspective


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Featured Graphic by Destiny Mizell

Story by Larry Rincon

“Family is not one important thing, but everything.”

– Robert De Niro in  “About My Father.”

With the movie market centered around franchise sequels and big-name film company remakes, this Memorial Day weekend delivered the family movie of the year so far. You might have been expecting Vin Diesel’s “Fast X” performance considering the important themes of family in the “Fast and Furious” series, but this week’s review is a comedic film called “About My Father” starring Sebastian Maniscalco as himself and Robert De Niro as Sebastian’s father, Salvo. 

The film is loosely based on Maniscalco’s life, especially his paternal relationship. It focuses on this relationship as he tries to propose to his girlfriend, Ellie, on a Fourth of July vacation at Ellie’s family’s summer home. From the perspective of an immigrant child, the film spoke to a lot of aspects that many first-generation individuals can understand.

The relationship between Sebastian and Salvo was built on heroism and respect. However, when faced with a situation where their upbringing as the traditional immigrant doesn’t fit with the upbringing of the first colonizers, their relationship is brought into question when Sebastian has changed from the boy his father raised to a man that passes by in Ellie’s rich family. 

Ellie and her brothers, Lucky and Doug, were a good variation in the different kids families tend to have. Lucky, as the oldest, appreciated having everything handed to him and was more or so the “typical rich boy.” Ellie, as the middle child, was a creative individual who craved being able to make mistakes without relying on her parents. Finally, Doug was simply the “weird” one with the most open-minded and respectful ideology, but slightly strange interests. The last character, Sebastian, represented the immigrant child experience.

In all honesty, there was not anything special about “About My Father.” The film was very average in both story and comedy. Standup held a huge part of the script considering they poked fun at concepts like race and background. I can appreciate the nod to how society views immigrants as oppressive versus the respect they hold for the white immigrants that built the country, but most of the humor, unfortunately, fell flat.

The storyline, as I mentioned before, did not feel new. Maybe it is the fact that this story is very much a story I am familiar with in my everyday life, but this is a film that looks and reminds me of every other film about family, traditions and cultural differences. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to tell this kind of story, but it does make it hard for people to enjoy it when they have already seen more than ten other films like it. 

This however is not meant to discourage anyone from watching the film. “About My Father” was still a very good watch for the characters and what they each represented. Ellie’s parents represented those who cling to their children and want to help their children reach their goals even if those methods are immoral. On the other hand, Salvo was a father who rarely showed affection and instead raised someone who behaved independently. Both perspectives are presented and it shows how that affects their kids’ dreams and desires. 

When you have immigrant parents you can relate to a lot of Sebastian’s thoughts and opinions. You grow up forgetting just how much your parents went through to give you a chance in a new country even though they remind you every day. “About My Father” told a nice story about family, but wasn’t amazing or original in any way. It can be appreciated for the realistic and not breaking laws of physics like other family movies such as “Fast X.”

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