29th Street (1991)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Farce  |   Release Date - Nov 1, 1991 (USA)  |   Run Time - 101 min.  |   Countries - Japan, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Karl Williams

Bubbling with good-natured charm, the directorial debut of Midnight Run screenwriter George Gallo breezes along on a likable current of cheer, buoyed by excellent performances from leads Danny Aiello and Anthony LaPaglia. Although the ostensible plot involves the first New York State lottery winner and is based on a true story, the real fun of Gallo's film is its depiction of an Italian-American clan in a humorous, blessedly nonviolent manner. Without a doubt, the characters in this film owe a debt to the wise guys who came before in the films of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. On the one hand, they're from the same world: They argue, love, eat, and work heatedly, and they scheme after better lives by performing duties somewhat outside the legal boundaries of society's rules, adhering to their own set of eccentric standards. The difference is that the characters here are not murderers, crooks, and criminals, but working-class salt of the Earth types with dreams both large and small, people that would have been instantly recognizable to Frank Capra. Despite a formulaic and somewhat anecdotal script, perhaps to be expected since it's loosely based on someone's real-life biography, 29th Street is a triumph because it never loses focus on what's best about it: Its full-bodied, amusing cast of big-as-life characters.