Sebastian Maniscalco’s New Movie with Robert De Niro Is Just ‘You People’ with Italians
In case you haven’t noticed, Sebastian Maniscalco is Italian-American.
In every stand-up special, every interview and now in his screenwriting debut, the Chicago-born comedian wears his heritage on his sleeve in bright green, white and red. His father, a hairstylist native to Sicily, has been the subject of a large percentage of Maniscalco’s stories, sets and jokes since the comedian first started performing stand-up in the late 1990s. In his upcoming film, About My Father, Maniscalco paid homage to his patriarch in about the most Italian-American way possible – by casting Robert De Niro to play him.
About My Father premieres this May, and the film appears to be a culture-clash comedy about an ethnic Italian family meeting their soon-to-be in-laws whose customs and behavior couldn’t be more dissimilar to their own. Basically, Maniscalco made You People but everyone’s white.
The set up of “different racial groups clash with a marriage coming up” wasn’t invented by You People – the Eddie Murphy film is clearly derivative of Sidney Poitier’s Guess Who's Coming to Dinner – but it’s worth the comparison considering the close release dates of the two films. Plus, if Maniscalco is attempting to make some kind of overarching point with the film, this kind of set up usually works better as social commentary when the culture clash isn’t between “white and a different kind of white.”
Also, though Maniscalco obviously didn’t cut his own trailer, the teaser for About My Father committed one of the cardinal sins that continues to bug us whenever a new comedy begins its promotional campaign. This trailer gave away the set-up and punchline for what is presumably a foundational joke in the film’s script by introducing the weirdo WASP family’s pet peacock and immediately showing De Niro killing it and feeding it to his son’s imminent in-laws. The self-spoiler is such a bush league move by any movie marketing department.
Still, with De Niro's name on the project and Italian flags adorning every transition, this trailer should drum up enough interest among its target audience of literally just Italian-Americans to find some success at the box office – and it certainly couldn’t be worse than all of De Niro’s grandpa comedies.