The producers (Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott) chose an interesting script (written by Stanley Tucci and his cousin) then hand-picked directors Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott, who cast Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Minnie Driver and Campbell Scott.
So a vanity project, and an obvious one (for everyone other than Ian Holm, who is too shouty and shifty and will hopefully not use this on his actor’s reel).
Italian brothers Tucci and Shalhoub (who is actually Lebanese via Wisconsin) have a restaurant that is failing because the food is too authentic for the locals and the atmosphere is dead. They have time for one final feast, their “big night” if you will, with special guest of honor Louis Prima (so movie is maybe set in the late 40’s), invited by their across-the-street rival Ian Holm who is suddenly all buddy-buddy with them. But Holm lied (to get the restaurant to fold, so the brothers will come work for him) and the bank will be foreclosing soon. Before that though, we must have a raging party with the best food anyone has ever tasted, and the brothers must fight then make up in the end, their futures still unwritten.
Such a typical 90’s indie movie. Really nothing to complain about, we enjoyed it pretty well, but it’s also no more groundbreaking or artistically exciting than Shalhoub’s directorial debut (written/starring his sister-in-law) eight years later Made-Up.
Isabella is here, but with too small a part to liven up the movie… it’s really all about the men.
Cinematographer Ken Kelsch (an Abel Ferrara regular) here tries to emphasize the fact that Ian Holm has a mustache, without actually showing the mustache. A risky artistic move that pays off. Holm does, it is later revealed, have a mustache.
The anticlimactic ending (all serious indie movies have anticlimactic endings):