Cinematic fish out of water tales can be tricky. Sometimes they are funny, insightful or poetic like in the case of "Austin Powers" and "Big." Other times, they can be misguided or worse. "Homie Spumoni" sadly falls into the latter category.
The story: Renato is a black man who has been raised by an Italian couple ever since he was a baby. Believing he is strictly Italian, Renato becomes shocked to learn that his real parents are African-American and that they lost him while on vacation in Italy. Now, Renato has to try and come to terms with his real heritage, while also balancing a new relationship with his dream girl. Can Renato adjust to these complicated turn of events?
If the plot summary sounds ridiculous, that's because it is. The story requires you to buy into the fact that Renato has never questioned his skin color (or even confronted his parents about it). However, this is not even the film's worst offense. Imagine all the stereotypes about Irish, Black, Italian, Jewish, and Japanese people. Now imagine them all put in one film and you've got an idea of what to expect in "Homie Spumoni." Everything from Godzilla, soul food, and money is mentioned here ad nauseum. It would have been nice if screenwriters Mike Cerrone, Steve Cerrone, and Glenn Cianno thought outside of the box instead of opting to write cliched perceptions of various types of people. It's downright disrespectful and racist.
Even with poor material, the cast makes the film worth watching. Jamie Lynn Sigler ("The Sopranos"), Joey Fatone (N'Sync) and Whoopi Goldberg ("Ghost") are all fine in their roles. The two scene-stealers, however, are Paul Mooney ("Chappelle's Show") and Tony Rock. Mooney is a great joke teller and can deliver hilarious lines. How can you not laugh at lines like "Billy Dee Williams had nothing on me!" or "I'll bite your ear off like Mike Tyson!" Rock also livens the film up as Renato's real brother. He is equally funny in one of the extra features (see below). The only cast member who doesn't pull of a good performance is Donald Faison ("Scrubs" and "Clueless"). Faison just isn't leading man material. He works well alongside others (like Zach Braff in "Scrubs"), but can't carry a film himself. It doesn't help that he is given embarrassing scenes such as when he dances, sings, and does cartwheels at a dog shelter.
The widescreen picture quality is nothing special. Some scenes are grainy and the color tones are often blindingly bright. Other than that, everything looked decent enough.
The English Dolby Surround 5.1 is fairly lackluster as the dialogue (and singing) are poorly dubbed. Viewers also have the option to play Portugues Dolby Surround 5.1
* Previews for four "Street Stars" DVDs, "Rush Hour 3," and "The Last Stand."
* A 3 1/2 minute gag reel mostly consisting of Donald Faison goofing around.
* A nearly 13 minute featurette titled "Deep Fried and Covered in Sugar" in which Tony Rock and Paul Mooney take Joey Fatone to the infamous Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles where they shoot the breeze and crack jokes. An odd but highly entertaining extra.
"Homie Spumoni" may have a few laughs, but the film is essentially 85 minutes of stereotypes. Skip it.
Film and television enthusiast Nick Lyons recently had his first book published titled "Attack of the Sci-Fi Trivia." It is available on Amazon.com.