Generally favorable reviews - based on 28 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 51 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Set in a quaint fishing community on the outskirts of New York City, City Island is a hilarious and touching tale about a family whose comfortable co-existence is upended by surprising revelations of past secrets and present day lies. Vince Rizzo is a lifelong resident of the tiny, tradition-steeped Bronx enclave of City Island. A family man who makes his living as a corrections officer, Vince longs to become an actor. Ashamed to admit his aspirations to his family, Vince would rather let his fiery wife Joyce believe his weekly poker games are a cover for an extramarital affair than admit he's secretly taking acting classes in Manhattan. When Vince is asked to reveal his biggest secret in class, he inadvertently sets off a chaotic chain of events that turns his mundane suburban life upside down. Inspired by the exercise, he decides to bring his long-lost ex-con son Tony home to meet the family, and it soon becomes clear that everyone—including his college student daughter, teenaged son Vinnie, Jr., charismatic acting partner and drama coach— has something to hide. A perfect storm of deception, half truths and confusion makes Vince and his family members realize that the truth may not set them free, but it is easier to keep track of than all their well-intentioned white lies. (Anchor Bay Films) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    You needn't have colorful Italian relatives, like myself, to enjoy this boisterous and warm-hearted film, which sidesteps cliche while embracing the hope and love in loony dysfunctional families everywhere.
  2. A charming throwback filled with authentic characters.
  3. 75
    But don't get the idea City Island is a laff riot. For this story about these people, it finds about the right tone. They're silly and foolish, as are we all, but deserve what happiness they can negotiate.
  4. Reviewed by: Glenn Whipp
    De Felitta ("Two Family House") gives all his actors plenty of room to roam. Garcia, afforded the chance to stretch his comic muscles and play a working stiff, comes off best, nailing Vince's good-natured vulnerability.
  5. 63
    After starring in a string of heavy dramas, Andy Garcia lightens up and goes for the funny in City Island, a breezy comedy that fits the actor like a güayabera.
  6. The performances are absurdly broad, and each story line is more outlandish than the last. But De Felitta’s approach is so easygoing, and the waterside setting so irresistibly charming, you’re bound to walk out in a great mood. How many movies can do that for you?
  7. Reviewed by: Cliff Doerksen
    Frank De Felitta wrote and directed this feeble but well-stuffed comedy; Alan Arkin and Emily Morton are wasted in cameos as Garcia's drama coach and acting buddy, respectively.

See all 28 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 13
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 13
  3. Negative: 0 out of 13
  1. Dec 16, 2011
    A truly great film with multi-faceted scenes and such a diverse story. Such eccentric dark humour with a complex look at family and all of its problems.
    Highly recommended.
  2. KingL.
    Apr 27, 2010
    This is a brilliant slice of life. A metaphor for American culture at its worst and its best. In a bevy of great performances Andy Garcia gives the performance of a lifetime. Raymond De Felitta not only provides the cast with great material but he directs them to perfection. One of the only times in his career where Andy Garcia doesn't go over the top. Worth the trip to the theatre. Expand
  3. miked.
    May 2, 2010
    One of the best movies I have seen in a while.
  4. DianaM
    May 2, 2010
    A wonderful surprise. Loved the characters, acting and pay off. Everyone should see this small but mighty film.
  5. Sep 19, 2010
    With creative mastery and verve, writer director Raymond De Felitta steps outside the Hollywood formula in the refreshing indie comedy City Island. City Island, a mostly Italian-American fishing village in the Bronx, is marked by the Rizzo family's strong ties and passions writ large. Each Rizzo harbors a secret, and the resulting clash of lies and half-truths keeps conflict sauteing.

    Andy Garcia movingly plays Vince Rizzo, proud native of City Island and prison guard. Vince secretly takes acting classes in Manhattan led by burnout teacher Michael Malakov (Alan Arkin). Joyce Rizzo (Julianna Margulies) is convinced that Vince's weekly poker night is a ruse to cover up an affair. The blue-collar couple sacrificed college plans for family commitments. College is no guarantee of happiness, however, for daughter Vivian (Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Garcia's real-life daughter). She secretly works as a stripper, looking to earn tuition and reapply after losing her scholarship. Vince Jr. (Ezra Miller) conceals his ongoing internet fetish for feeding obese women.

    Things really heat up when Vince recognizes an inmate one day. Tony (the excellent Steven Strait) is his son from a long-ago affair. Tony is due for release, but has no family member to sponsor him. When Vince brings Tony home on the pretense of having him install an extra bathroom, Joyce goes ballistic. Vince tells no one that Tony is his son.

    Another excellent subplot involves Vince's secret meetings with acting partner Molly (emotive Emily Mortimer). The two must share their biggest secret with each other to prepare for a class monologue. Molly coaches Vince before his audition for a Scorsese movie. The friends share a romance not for each other, but for life and its possibilities.

    City Island's good times become apparent only in retrospect. Resentments smolder and occasionally explode into scream fests. Each major character faces a dilemma: tell the truth, or engage in the acrobatics of deception. While this can be entertaining to watch, it's painfully uncomfortable for the Rizzos. Garcia (Things to Do in Denver When Youâ
  6. Dec 5, 2012
    It could have very easily been annoying, but thanks to the strength of its cast it becomes a funny, heartfelt, and endearing story of a dysfunctional family. Expand
  7. Apr 13, 2011
    A slight premise (a dysfunctional family unable to be honest with each other are brought together by an ex-con who turns out to be...) which could easily have been wrecked by poor casting is brought to life by excellent, empathetic performances by Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies. There are a few bum notes (a wince-inducing turn by Emily Mortimer as an ever-so-English aspiring actress and a cringeworthy scene where Garcia over-emotes as an amateur actor under-emoting to win a role) but it's all likeable enough, particularly when they all stop shouting and start listening to each other. Expand

See all 13 User Reviews