Little Italy

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Little Italy Movie Poster Image
Charmless romcom has swearing, sexual references.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 102 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Promotes forgiveness, importance of family, love at all ages, learning from mistakes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Parental figures, including grandparents, are loving and dependable. Filled with stereotypes intended as humor: Italian, gay, Indian, Chinese.

Violence

A hard slap. Kids set firecrackers that scare sleeping man. Men tussle.

Sex

Kissing, foreplay, cuddling in bed, partial nudity: male bottom seen from rear, couple in scanty underwear. Sexual innuendo, references, and jokes throughout. Contestants in Mr. Italy Bikini contest model "swimsuits." Females in bikinis in background of several shots. Brief glimpses of statuary with Kama Sutra theme in an Indian restaurant. 

Language

Frequent swearing, profanity, insults, and sexual references: i.e., "a---hole," "testicles," "vagina," "bitch," "junk," "penis," "shagging," "s--t," "big on oral," "junk trunks," "score for a change." Conversation about gay man's coming out and reaction of his family.

Consumerism

Featured products: Air Canada, Peroni beer, Starbucks. Reference to Viagra. Toronto restaurants and retail stores in in background of many scenes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Marijuana is included in pizza topping as a prank. Adult beverages consumed frequently: wine, beer, shots. Leading character gets drunk and passes out. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Little Italy is a romantic comedy set in Toronto that features a conventional Romeo and Juliet setup: the young adult offspring of feuding pizza parlor owners fall in love. Multigenerational Italian stereotypes and slapstick jokes fill the screen hoping to update an old-fashioned story with a modern-day sensibility and (spoiler alert -- a happy ending). Sexual references and innuendo are frequent. A clueless character clutches his crotch. Two seniors engage in a "will-they or won't-they?" relationship (spoiler alert -- they will). There's at least one sperm joke, mention of "junk trunks," "lucky in the shower," "I'm big on oral " as well as other profanity, including "a--hole," "s--t," "bitch," "shagging," "penis." Partial nudity and limited sexual activity are included: i.e., a young twosome in underwear finds their way to bed, kissing as they go. Another couple cuddle in bed. Both men and women in scanty bathing suits are seen in background. A prank -- adding marijuana to pizza sauce -- results briefly in "comic mayhem." Characters drink adult beverages in multiple scenes; the heroine gets drunk in one, passes out. Someone is slapped, and two adult men tussle. 

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What's the story?

Formerly best friends and partners, Vince (Gary Basaraba) and Sal (Adam Ferrara) have been feuding in their side-by-side Toronto pizza parlors for years in LITTLE ITALY. It's been five years since their now-adult children, Leo (Hayden Christensen) and Nikki (Emma Roberts), have seen each other. When Nikki, a budding chef in London, comes back to the city for a time they meet again. Best friends as kids, competitive but inseparable, both are trying to negotiate adulthood and both are aware of their dads' hostility. Still, spending time together is an intriguing possibility. Complicating matters is the secret romance between Nikki's grandmother (Andrea Martin) and Leo's grandfather (Danny Aiello). In typical storybook fashion, for both couples, it's "boy gets girl, boy loses girl, and boy gets girl back" and only a "best pizza" contest will determine whether or not they'll all be winners. 

Is it any good?

This throwback to 1980s romcoms succeeds only at reaching new heights of cheesiness: predictable plot, forced comedy, cringe-worthy stereotypes, weak script, and artless execution. It's pointless to mention all that's wrong with Little Italy, but when the biggest laughs come from a Chinese man named Luigi who runs an Italian-style bar; a sex-crazed senior dancing on the table in a pizza joint after having inadvertently ingested pot, and an Indian restaurant named "Karma Sutra," it's all downhill from there, hitting rock bottom with the female cop who pats down the hero for what seems like forever as she utters one double-entendre after another. A misfire on all cylinders.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way sex and sexuality are portrayed in Little Italy. Some of it is silly; some of it is meant to be romantic. What values do the scenes convey? How does the film treat its gay characters?

  • Find out what the term "product placement" (referred to as "Consumerism" in our Content Grid) means in film and television. Which name brands most likely provided the film company with either products or other financial consideration in Little Italy? Is it important to be aware of this practice? Why or why not?

  • Romeo and Juliet is a story that often provides the basis for media fare. One of the most celebrated examples of this is West Side Story. What is about the universality of the tale and its characters that make it work so well in a variety of times and settings?

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