Everyone in the Rizzo family has something to hide: Paterfamilias Vince (Andy Garcia) works as a corrections officer, but sneaks off for acting lessons; legal-secretary matriarch Joyce (Julianna Margulies) makes out with Tony (Steven Strait), the ex-con Vince has invited to live with them in the Bronx fishing village of the title; daughter Vivian (Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Andy's kid) lost her college scholarship and now strips; and teenage Vince Jr. (Afterschool's Ezra Miller) chases chubbies. The secrets and lies overstuff the plot—a thread involving Vince and a fellow thesp hopeful played by Emily Mortimer is especially superfluous—and set up too many misunderstandings played for laughs, culminating in the usual tidy conclusion of forgiveness and acceptance. But writer-director Raymond De Felitta (2000's Two Family House) keeps his comedy of dysfunction afloat with sharp specifics: "I went to Oneonta," Joyce protests at the dinner table after Vince warns his kids of the dead-end future of those who are B.A.-less, like Mom and Dad. An affectionate portrait of a lower-middle-class, outer-borough clan, City Island works best as an actor's showcase, with Margulies' aggrieved, simmering wife the standout. Though his accent is inconsistent, Garcia fully explores the corrosive consequences of having to conceal a dog-eared copy of An Actor Prepares in the bathroom.
Garcia (center) and his clan.
Opens at Seven Gables, Fri., April 9. Rated PG-13. 103 minutes.