Released 1993 (USA)
American, in English (some very minor non-translated German)
Director - Martha Coolidge
Stars - Richard Dreyfuss, Mercedes Ruehl, Irene Worth
Set in 1942. When their father needs to travel in order to make money, brothers Jay (Brad Stoll) and Arty (Mike Damus) are left in the care of their mean tyrant of a grandmother (Worth) in Yonkers. Ruehl co-stars as the boys’ childlike Aunt Bella and Dreyfuss as their thieving mobster of an uncle, Louie.
Minor blue language and very minor violence.
The beginning of the movie was difficult to get through. I didn’t understand what was happening and Bella was acting like a nut job for no reason and it was very frustrating. Until the situation was clarified, it truly tested my patience.
I didn’t really like the ending either. It felt abrupt.
The whole thing was a bit of a hot mess. In the beginning, it seemed to be about Jay and Arty. In the middle, Louie seemed to be the star of the show. By the end, it seemed that Bella’s story was the point. So what was the point? I think the honest answer is “shrug.”
Dreyfuss was a hoot. The movie shone whenever he was onscreen.
I sort of loved the evil German grandmother. She was a bit stereotypical but sometimes you just have to enjoy a character that’s an unrepentant jerk. I liked that she was never truly redeemed. It felt honest.
It was pretty funny in parts.
It took a while, but this movie really grew on me. If I’d given up on it in the first half hour, I would be writing a very different review. But I stuck it out because I had to and I ended up enjoying it for the most part. It has a certain charm. The characters are all very likable (yes, even the mean grandma). I found myself rooting for everyone, wanting them to work out their problems, although I wasn’t disappointed when they didn’t because that’s life. Not everyone gets their act together. I don’t think this is a movie for everyone, but I do recommend giving it a shot.
I give the movie 3.75 stars.