Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 1996
Directed by
Stanley Tucci / Campbell Scott
107 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Big Night

Big Night is a delectable addition to the "food film" category, the core of which is the transformative power of food in the lives of people (this time, New Jersey Italo-Americans), as we follow the travails of two Italian brothers, chef, Primo Pilaggi (Tony Shalhoub) and his maître d' brother, Secondo (Stanley Tucci), as they struggle to keep afloat their authentic trattoria in pre-cosmopolitan 1950s New York.

Tucci was co-director with Scott Campbell who plays the Chrysler salesman, Bob) and also co-wrote the film with Joseph Tropiano. Minnie Driver, Isabella Rossellini and Alison Janney provide the female supports whilst an unusually-cast Ian Holm hoots it up as a rival Italian restaurateur and bad consigliore, Pascal.

A businessman first and a restaurateur second Pascal does a thriving trade across the road offering cheap plentiful fare and tricks the brothers into preparing a banquet in the belief that Louis Prima is going to honour them with a visit. The closest Prima gets, however, is on the lively 1950s pop music soundtrack that matches the story which nevertheless climaxes with the banquet. This is handled with appetite-whetting flair whilst a morning-after omelet rounds the night off gently.

The production's team spirit (Tucci and Campbell were also two of the film's eight producers, one of whom was Oliver Platt) befits the story which captures with good-natured humour Italian family dynamics. The film handles well the shifts back and forth between English and Italian with the exception of Ian Holm who might as well be from anywhere in Eastern Europe and somewhat ironically, Tucci sounding a bit caricatural in the latter stages. 

All up, Big Night is a slight but engaging film which will have extra appeal for food-lovers.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst