Donald Petrie’s Little Italy does not quite fall into the “so bad it’s good” category. Which is a shame, as the film has little going for it.
Nikki and Leo are best friends; their parents run a pizza restaurant together. As adults, their families are rivals. When Nikki comes back to town, feelings materialise between the pair…
Little Italy is a romantic comedy about two childhood friends who reunite as adults and see sparks fly. The film opens on the idyllic childhood of Nicki and Leo, with both main characters providing narration. As the course of true love can naturally never run smooth, the love story is complicated by the falling out of their families, and Nicki’s job offer in London.
Little Italy fails due to its reliance on tired stereotypes. Broadly speaking, the Italian-North American (the film is set in Canada) tropes are tired, yet film wants to rehash as many as possible. Writers Steve Galluchio and Vinay Virmani include almost every stereotype possible. This is done, it appears, without any circumspection; the film comes across as sincere with its insincere depictions. It is not just the Italian-heritage characters who fall victim to this, with archetypal Indian supporting characters.
The protagonists are given a little more development. Nevertheless, it would be remiss to say that they are compelling characters. Little Italy follows the well-tread path of the city girl returning to her small hometown and reuniting with the small town boy (so far, so Sweet Home Alabama). Nikki’s trajectory feels unsatisfactory for a contemporary-set film. Several of Little Italy’s issues could be forgiven if the central love story was enchanting. Unfortunately there is little chemistry between Hayden Christensen’s Leo and Emma Roberts’ Nikki. It is neither actor’s finest hour.
Little Italy feels hopelessly outdated. Although the film is not a boring watch, it is not recommended viewing either.
Little Italy is available to watch on UK digital download platforms from Monday 11th March 2019.