An interesting sub-genre in comedies and dramas is the dysfunctional family genre. There are many great films, mediocre films, and downright bad films included in this group, among the best being The Royal Tenenbaums, The Family Stone, Home for the Holidays, even National Lampoons Vacation. But there is a new film to join the ranks of the best ones, and it is brought to us by writer and director Raymond De Felitta. The film is City Island, and part of the reason for its inclusion here is the patriarch performance of Andy Garcia.
City Island is the story of the Rizzo family. Patriarch Vince Rizzo is a corrections officer with big dreams of being an actor, which he hides from his wife in the disguise of a gambling addiction. The main goal of City Island is just to give us a look at a family during a turning point in all of their intertwined relationships, and it works beautifully.
Andy Garcia, who has been out of the spotlight for some time, but remains one of Hollywood's unsung greats, is fantastic as Vince Rizzo. The fact that he would rather his wife think he is a gambler than an aspiring actor pretty much sums up the dysfunction in the Rizzo family. Julianne Margulies is Vince's wife Joyce, who is pretty much fed up with their life and fed up with Vince. With Emily Mortimer and Alan Arkin rounding out the acting talent, you really can't go wrong with City Island. The pacing is tight, the family dynamic is familiar and relatable in a far too realistic manner, and the humor keeps coming, in a fresh and genuine way. City Island is the hidden gem at this late point in our summer, and I highly recommend going out and picking it up or at least renting it. If you want to spend a while with a family that will make you feel better about your own, give City Island a shot. And welcome back Andy Garcia while you're at it.