Big Night

on September 20, 1996 by Dwayne E. Leslie
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Two brothers, Primo (Tony Shalhoub) and Secondo ("A Modern Affair's" Stanley Tucci), move from Italy to New Jersey and open Paradise. At this restaurant dedicated to serving authentic Italian cuisine, Primo creates masterpieces but his efforts go unappreciated. He is too fancy for his customers' simple requests. Secondo wants to change the menu to match the desires of the spaghetti-and-meatballs customers so as to compete with thriving local competition. When needed business loans are denied, the two become desperate and decide to spend their last savings on one Big Night event in the hope that the media and word-of-mouth will kick-start clientele.
Despite their contrasting personalities, the brothers struggle to maintain a bond while venturing in individual directions. The Old-Worldish Primo is set in his ways; he's the best at what he does and isn't willing to compromise his style for anyone. New-World capitalist Secondo is a businessman who's willing to bend over backward and pull any stunts to accomplish what he came to America to do. In "Big Night," the inner strength needed to overcome differences, accept them and say "I'm sorry" are examined, especially in an effective final scene in which actions take the place of dialogue.
Co-director/co-script er Tucci sets "Big Night" in the 1950s to pay homage to his roots and traditions, fashioning a semi-autobiographical story (with co-writer Joseph Tropiano, his cousin) and using the notion of food as a focal point for keeping kith and kin together. A sumptuous repast, most of the movie's scenes involve either preparing or serving food. At the big-night gala, the highlight is a kettle drum-shaped dish called Timpano--a mosaic of meat, cheese, pasta and eggs that makes one wish for a scratch-'n-sniff card. Starring Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Ian Holm and Isabella Rossellini. Directed by Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci. Written by Joseph Tropiano and Stanley Tucci. Produced by Jonathan Filley. A Goldwyn release. Drama. Rated R for language. Running time: 110 min. Opens Friday Sept. 20 in New York and Los Angeles.
Tags: Starring Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Ian Holm, Isabella Rossellini, Directed by Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci. Written by Joseph Tropiano, Stanley Tucci, Produced by Jonathan Filley, Goldwyn, Drama
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