Starring: Emma Roberts, Hayden Christensen, Alyssa Milano
Director: Donald Petrie
Running Time: 102 mins
Little Italy is an American/Canadian film about two lifelong friends from the Little Italy district of Toronto who, years after seeing themselves and their families grow apart, reunite and recapture the magic of their wonderful childhood.
You’ve seen this film a million times before, and you probably didn’t like it that much on any of those occasions. Little Italy is pretty much as generic as the romantic comedy gets, with awkward meet-cutes, childhood friends falling in love, a passion for an exotic location, and a run to the airport at the finish, all of which is light and easy enough to make you grit your teeth in anger, but is far from the genuinely enjoyable or in any way original entertainment that can make a romantic comedy properly good fun.
While Emma Roberts and Hayden Christensen do their best to make the most of a pretty bad batch of tomato soup, there’s little they can really do to stop Little Italy from feeling like the ultimate caricature of the romantic comedy. Its lack of self-awareness as to just how generic and predictable it is makes watching the film feel like looking and laughing at a friend walking around in his underwear, and he’s the only one who doesn’t know it.
As a result, I have little other choice than to say that Little Italy is an embarrassingly generic romantic comedy, and the way that it uses painfully predictable tropes and irritatingly plastic cheeriness throughout often makes it really difficult to watch, and entirely impossible to take seriously.
As I said, it may have some good acting talent in its lead duo with Emma Roberts and Hayden Christensen, of whom both have proved themselves in a number of other genres – although perhaps not the rom-com – but when you’re working with a screenplay this simple and this generic, it’s very difficult to break out of what feels like a hilariously plastic piece of filmmaking, and far from the uplifting or even emotionally stirring story that it’s trying to create.
Its ‘passion’ for the world of Little Italy and the quirks and charms of the delightful pizzeria on the corner feels more than fake, and when shone through the light of garishly bright camerawork and scarily cheery extras and supporting actors, the film just becomes more and more like a weird, clownish caricature of its very self, failing in any way to bring about a sense of fun, likable or in any way palpably romantic entertainment throughout.
Now, if you really can’t get enough of your romantic comedies, then the film’s generic nature will surely be a plus for you, but from an objective perspective, it really doesn’t have enough to impress or entertain in any genuine way beyond laughing at it all, and that’s why I’m giving Little Italy a 6.3 overall.