Uncle Nino is formulaic, predictable, and clichéd—but endearing nonetheless.
The story is familiar: Stressed-out suburban father sees his co-workers more than he sees his wife and kids, and has the money—and the relationships—to prove it. Enter the visitor, an odd character who displays an endearing simplicity and a contagious love for life. Cultures and personalities clash, leading to the climactic moment when the suburban father finally realizes the weight of his actions. Tears and hugs ensue. The visitor eventually leaves the suburban McMansion and returns home, but the family is changed forever.
In the case of Uncle Nino, the role of suburban father Robert Micelli is played by Joe Mantegna (Godfather III, Bugsy, Searching for Bobby Fischer, and currently the TV series Joan of Arcadia). The visitor is Robert's Uncle Nino (Pierrino Mascarino), an Italian peasant who journeys to America armed with Italian sausage, wine, a photo of his hero, Abraham Lincoln—and his beloved violin. Picture the Fiddler on the Roof walking into the land of Ferris Bueller, and you can imagine the results.
As with all movies in this genre, it turns out that Nino's visit accomplishes far more than he originally intends. Robert's wife (Anne Archer, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) and children (Trevor Morgan, Jurassic Park III, The Patriot, and Gina Mantegna—Joe's daughter—in her screen debut) long for a relationship with him, but aren't sure what to make of the odd Uncle Nino. But as Nino connects with each of the characters, they also learn to re-connect with each other.
Uncle Nino was originally booked for a two-week test run at a theater in Grand Rapids, Michigan. But after an enthusiastic response ...1
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