Somewhere in Queens movie review: A quaint and comical family affair


If you’re looking for your next family ‘dramedy’, you might find it in the Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions film Somewhere in Queens. The film had received positive reviews after its premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and was given a limited theatrical release across the country.

The film was produced by Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, Mark Stegemann, and Ray Romano under his Papa Al Productions banner. You may know Romano from his hit CBS teleivison sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond in which he portrays the titular family man and sports writer but in this medium, he takes on even more responsibility as director, writer, and lead actor.

Somewhere in Queens follows the story of a blue-collar family led by Leo and Angela Russo who raise a shy, sensitive high school senior, Matthew, affectionally nicknamed Sticks. When a life-changing opportunity for Sticks to play basketball scholarship is jeopardized, Leo risks his marriage and his own relationship with his son to make it happen.

Jacob Ward portrays Matthew ‘Sticks’ Russo in addition to performances from Sadie StanleySebastian Maniscalco, Jennifer Esposito, Dierdre Friel, Jon Manfrellotti, Danny Garcia, Erik Griffin, June Gable, Tony Lo Bianco, Adam Kaplan, Katie Kreisler, Franco Maicas, and Jennifer Simard.

The extended Russo family serves as support to the lead cast with strong stand-out performances from Friel, Maniscalco, and of course veteran actor Lo Bianco who plays Dominic ‘Pops’ Russo, helped to shape the story even further.

Somewhere in Queens is heartwarming and heart-wrenching

While the movie centers on the happenings of an Italian-American family from New York, the overarching themes of the film sparked moments that will resonate with most families outside of those lived experiences. but it never felt overplayed. One might be thrown off by the stereotypical  behavior that we have seen in films of a similar genre with a similar type of family, are put in the film in a more tasteful way through smart one-liners. It was nice to see a healthy balance between comedy and drama in this film in contrast to others I’ve seen which tend to not know what tone they’re going for.

Romano and Metcalf’s chemistry remained palpable throughout the entire film. I believed them, not only as parents, but as a couple who were going through the motions of marriage and being interrupted by external forces beyond their control and as tensions rise, so do the performances. Metcalf, a strong performer in her own right, shines as the recent cancer survivor and matriarch of the family. She took her character seriously and took control in her scenes where we are able to see her battle one-on-one with her own emotions over her own health and family.

Stanley, who plays Sticks’ short-lived girlfriend, Dani Brooks, brings a youthful charm to her character but is also able to lean into the uncomfortable nature of her eventual strained relationship with Sticks while navigating the demands of Leo. She fit this role perfectly and has the comedic and dramatic range to continue into heftier roles. I had the same feeling about Ward, who is a newcomer to the feature-film world. Playing an awkward, inexperienced high school student comes with its own set of challenges but he seemed to take on the personality of Sticks with such ease. It’s going to be interesting to see where his next film role will come from.

One thing I noticed, this being Romano’s directorial debut, is that it’s incredibly fitting to be his first. There are perks with being able to tell your own story such as, if you look closely, you’ll see that the first-time director cast his own sons in small roles throughout the film, but also because he has control over what can happen in those mundane moments.

My main critique lies in the fact that it tugs on the heartstrings too long in certain scenes but it also made me want to see more. No part of this movie felt rushed necessarily such as some ‘dramedies’ that tend to have throw-away scenes that changes the pace of the film. None were found here but if the story would’ve allotted an additional hour and I would’ve been okay with it and I’m sure viewers will share that same sentiment if they also resonate with the situation that the characters are joined together by.

I definitely enjoyed how hilarious this movie was and applaud it for how simultaneously heartwarming and heart-wrenching it is. For a story that, at first glance, might seem feel-good, it’s way more poignant than the marketing portrays it to be. It doesn’t have the picture-perfect ending that some viewers might be looking for but instead ends on a fitting tongue-in-cheek line delivered by Metcalf. It will definitely be one of the more memorable and touching films to come out of early 2023 and will be a favorite amongst streaming audiences as well.

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Somewhere in Queens is out in limited theaters now. Check your local cinema listings for showtimes.