The Rizzos are an average family -- two parents, two kids -- who make their home on City Island, an old fishing town in the Bronx. The patriarch, Vince (Andy Garcia), is a New York State corrections officer with dreams of being an actor. His wife, Joyce (Julianna Margulies), is a beautiful but aging housewife and mother who laments the education she lost when she became pregnant with her daughter, Vivian (Dominik García-Lorido, Andy Garcia's real-life daughter), now college age. And then there's Vinnie (Ezra Miller), a skinny 15-year-old master of the smart-ass remark.
The Rizzos live together, eat together, and bicker like hell about everything. Plus they're all intensely secretive. Each and every member of the family smokes cigarettes but lies about it. Vinnie hides his love of fat girls, otherwise known as BBWs, and his fantasies about feeding them massive quantities of food. His older sister, Vivian, doesn't spend her days studying as Mom and Dad assume; she strips for dollar bills at a low-rent nudie bar. Joyce, meanwhile, suspects her husband of cheating but won't confront him. And Vince takes acting classes while telling his wife he's out playing poker with the boys. That's not all, though. Vince is keeping something from his family. He calls it his secret of secrets -- an illegitimate son, Tony (Steven Strait).
City Island is not one of those no-laughs, black-to-the-bone family comedies like Noah Baumbach's Margot at the Wedding. This movie actually plays toxic dysfunction for quick and easy giggles. When City Island works, it's thanks to the strong ensemble cast and writer/director Raymond De Felitta's nice, light touch. But Felitta, the 45-year-old, NYC-born filmmaker who also helmed 2005's The Thing About My Folks, glosses over some of the deep hurt that should be part of the story. And so, ultimately, City Island is a charming, if not entirely realistic, movie about a big, messed-up modern family.
March 12 at 7 p.m., Gusman Center, 174 E. Flagler St., Miami; 305-372-0925.